Wednesday, March 09, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Coroner’s race is complicated

The Lonoke County coroner’s race last week taught a civics lesson to even the savviest residents and political observers.

In a twist, the candidate who had dropped out before the ballots could be edited actually received the most votes, but not enough to avoid a runoff.

Karl E. (Eddie) Pennington did not campaign at all after bowing out when he took a job outside Lonoke County. By law, he cannot become coroner even if he wins the March 22 runoff against Carla Horton, who came in second ahead of Kenny Fraley.

Early voting starts Tuesday.

If Pennington wins the runoff, the term of the current coroner, Cheryl Thomas, will be extended for another two years. Thomas was appointed by the governor after her husband Mark died in office last year. She is the owner of Thomas Funeral Home in Cabot.

As an appointee, she is not allowed to run for another term.

Pennington may have won because he drew the first position on the ballot. That’s usually a lucky break for candidates, except if they drop out and it’s too late to change the ballot. Worst things have happened: People have voted for dead candidates, which would have been unfortunate, especially had it happened in a coroner’s race.

Voters can be forgiven for going to the polls not knowing the latest news on the coroner’s race. We did have races for president and U.S. Senate, as well as heated contests for the legislature and quorum court.

People who turn up for the runoff are going to be more informed about who they are voting for, but let’s hope Pennington doesn’t win again.

Horton has worked for the State Crime Lab and several funeral homes. She’s got the experience to get the job done. Pennington and Fraley should endorse Horton.