Even as he announced full accreditation for the coroner’s office, Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker said he has taken a position in the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office in Pittsburgh and will be stepping down as coroner “as soon as the time is right for doing so.”
In the meantime, he said he remains “very much” engaged in running the coroner’s office and that he has not established a firm timeline for leaving.
“The people of Indiana County deserve to have a smooth transition of responsibilities once that happens. I intend to make sure that occurs with their best interests in mind,” he said in a statement sent to the Gazette this morning.
Baker has served as coroner in Indiana County for eight years and as chief deputy coroner for 22 years.
He is running unopposed on the Republican ballot for a third term. There are no Democratic candidates.
Robin Maryai, Indiana County’s chief clerk, said that Baker has not contacted her to withdraw from the election as of this morning. It is too late to have his name taken off of the primary ballot, she said, and he has until Aug. 12 to withdraw from the general election.
If he does withdraw, the Republican Party may nominate someone to replace him on the ballot, she said.
And if he resigns as coroner before a new one is elected, Maryai said a new coroner will be appointed by the governor.
Jesse Daniel, chairman of the Republican Party in Indiana County, said they will select someone to put on the ballot in Baker’s stead after the primary election.
Baker is the new manager of operations at the medical examiner’s office in Pittsburgh, a position he took on April 8.
“It is a great opportunity to take the things I’ve learned over the past 30 years and put them to use in a world-class organization,” he said.
But he stressed that he has neither retired nor resigned from his current position as coroner or handed over his responsibilities to anyone as acting coroner. He said he has submitted paperwork related to retirement but that no further action has taken place.
In the meantime, Baker said he learned Monday that Indiana County has become the 16th county in the United States to have a coroner’s office fully accredited through the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.
“This has never happened before,” he said. “To be the 16th to achieve this goal is remarkable for a small, rural county like Indiana.”