The race for Effingham County coroner is a classic tussle between a candidate with an extensive law enforcement background and an opponent with a medical background.
Both Republican Duane Guffey and Democrat Tanya Overbeck have served as chief deputy coroner under retiring Coroner Leigh Hammer, who has chosen not to seek a third term. Guffey was the chief deputy for a number of years before resigning last year. He was replaced by Overbeck.
Guffey is a longtime Effingham police officer who also operates a family-owned dry cleaning business, while Overbeck is a nurse. Both candidates survived primary opposition in March to earn a slot on the general election ballot.
Tanya Overbeck said her medical experience makes her the best candidate for Effingham County coroner.
“The fact that I have medical experience sets me apart from my opponent,” Overbeck said. “The stronger medical background one has, the better off we are.”
Overbeck, who has a Bachelor of Science in nursing, said she knows the right medical questions to ask.
“I have a working knowledge of how to deal with the medical community,” she said. “Decisions can be made within the office by interpreting medical documents. That way, we don’t have to rely so much on consultants.”
Overbeck, 37, said her medical experience will save taxpayer dollars.
“I can interpret medical records myself, rather than have somebody consult us on them,” she said.
Overbeck said she would continue the improvements in record keeping that Hammer began. Now that the coroner has an office on the fourth floor of the Effingham County Office Building, Overbeck said the next step is a fully electronic record-keeping system.
Her other goals are to stay within her allotted budget and continue to maintain the level of professionalism in the coroner’s office.
As Tanya Everett, Overbeck graduated from Effingham High School. She received her BSN from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She has also completed a number of continuing education courses related to her work in the coroner’s office. This year, she has completed about 80 hours of training for the coroner’s office and another 20 hours to maintain her nursing license.
Overbeck is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Effingham, as well as a member of the state and national coroners and medical examiners associations.
Overbeck and husband Joe have two children. The family lives in rural Mason.
Duane Guffey touts his many years of public service in his bid to become the next Effingham County coroner. It is that experience, he said, that sets him apart from opponent Tanya Overbeck.
“I believe my strongest points are my vast years of experience in public service,” Guffey said. “That is something I can draw from.”
Guffey, 56, has been involved in various forms of public service since he was a teenager. He started out as a part-time firefighter/EMT with the Effingham Fire Department nearly 40 years ago. For the past 29 years, he has been a part-time police officer in the City of Effingham.
Guffey said the most important issue facing the new coroner will be maintaining quality working relationships with all the various entities that work with the coroner’s office.
“I want to make those relationships even better,” he said.
Guffey said he’d like arrange locally-performed autopsies to limit time spent driving back and forth to Springfield or Champaign.
Other goals included maintaining the high level of professionalism in the office.
“I want to continue to see that we have quality staff to respond in a timely and professional manner,” he said.
Guffey said he’d also like to maintain strong working relationships with law enforcement and medical entities.
“I want to work together with other entities to participate in public education and service to the citizens of the county,” he said.
Guffey said one more goal he has is to use the chaplain service offered through Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS).
“I would like to plug these chaplains in during emergency situations,” he said.
Guffey owns a family dry cleaning and tuxedo rental business in Effingham. In addition to his fire and police service, he also served as chief deputy coroner for 11 1/2 years before resigning that position last year.
Like his opponent, Guffey is an Effingham High School graduate. He has also completed fire extension courses at the University of Illinois and attended both Lake Land and Lincoln Trail colleges.
Guffey is a member of First Baptist Church of Altamont and Altamont Masonic Lodge 533.
Guffey and wife Marcia have two sons and four grandchildren. They live in rural Altamont.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at email@example.com.