June 15, 2011 12:11:00 PM
Candidates for Oktibbeha County coroner will have a few additional months to campaign thanks to a first-round bye.
Since there''s only two candidates in the race, Michael Hunt, a Democrat, and Billy Miller, a Republican, will skip the August primaries and go straight to the Nov. 8 general election.
Hunt, 40, is finishing his fourth term as county coroner. He''s also served as the county''s director of medical services at OCH Regional Medical Center for 22 years and still hops in the ambulance at times to work as an EMT.
The Sturgis High School graduate attended medical school at the University of Alabama before coming to work for the county. He says his medical experience makes all the difference in the race for coroner.
"I''m the only candidate that has medical experience. You cannot do this job adequately without medical training," he said. "You have to determine the cause of death, know disease processes, and unless you have medical training, you can''t do that."
In addition to his qualifications, Hunt will campaign on his record as coroner.
"Talk to anyone I ever served with. Ask if they''re disenchanted or unhappy with my work. I feel I''ve been compassionate, understanding to families and work well with law enforcement," he said.
Miller, 39, has worked for the past 20 years at Welch Funeral Home in Starkville where he is currently the funeral director.
The Hickory Grove native received his associate''s degree in mortuary science from East Mississippi Community College.
"I have 20 years experience in the funeral industry. And I do have some forensic science background with mortuary science. I''ve taken classes on the topic so I can determine the cause of death," he said.
Miller said his time in the funeral industry has led to a desire to do more for families who have lost a member.
"(Becoming coroner has) been an ambition of mine. Since I''ve been in the funeral industry I want to help people as much as I could. I have years of experience and want to give the people someone to treat their loved ones with dignity and respect," he said.
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