Sumter County coroner race is three-way
By BETH ALSTON
AMERICUS — Incumbent Sumter County Coroner, Greg E. Hancock, a Republican, faces two other Republican candidates in the May 24 Primary Election: Scott Aldridge and Bobby Hancock-Harris. All three candidates are local funeral directors.
Greg E. Hancock of Leslie, ran for the coroner’s office in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 as was elected each time.
Hancock is a 1982 graduate of Southland Academy, and a 1992 graduate of Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science. He has over 420 hours training in death investigation by the Georgia Coroners Training Council, and over 150 hours of training in Child Fatalities by the Georgia Child Fatality Review Program that is part of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
As far as changes needed in the coroner’s office, Hancock said, “I don’t think any changes need to be made due to the fact that the coroner’s office must be run in accordance to state law. The office is being run in an efficient manner with high ethics and morals and all records are subject to the Open Records Act.”
Because of his experience as coroner, Hancock is confident that he is qualified to continue to serve.
“I feel I am qualified to continue to hold this office due to the many hours of training, both in the classroom and in the field. With a background in the death care industry I understand that the families facing the death of a loved one need to be treated with compassion and dignity. As the owner of four businesses in Sumter County, I understand that each elected official must be financially responsible with the taxpayers’ money.”
In closing, Hancock told the Times-Recorder, “I would like to thank the voters of Sumter County for putting their trust in me for the past 15 years. I have always made sure that each case is handled in the most efficient and professional manner possible and have always been available to anyone who has questions concerning the coroner’s office.
“If I am re-elected, the coroner’s office will continue to run in the most efficient manner with the highest level of morals and ethics. I have always treated each family with respect regardless of their race or status in life. I feel my reputation speaks for itself and my past record as coroner also speaks for itself. I have never been over budget, and I have one of, if not the lowest budgets in the county.
“I attend Central Baptist Church in Americus, and I am a member of The Americus Civitan Club (past President), Georgia Funeral Directors Association ( District Chairman two terms), National Funeral Directors Association, Georgia Coroners Association, M B Council Lodge #13, and Camp Sumter Sport Shooting Association. I have always been in leadership positions and take my responsibilities very serious. I would greatly appreciate the citizens of Sumter County allowing me to continue to serve as your coroner.
“I have always been in leadership positions and take my responsibilities very serious. I would greatly appreciate the citizens of Sumter County allowing me to continue to serve as your coroner.”
Scott Aldridge of Americus graduated from Southland Academy in 1991. He graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science in 1995, as a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in the State of Georgia.
“It is time for a change,” Aldridge said. “Someone needs to be in the office that is committed to the duties of the job. The coroner also needs to be available to the families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I will run an efficient office. I can be trusted with tax payers’ money by keeping their best interests in mind.” This Aldridge’s first time seeking public office.
When asked about his qualifications for the office of coroner, Aldridge told the Times-Recorder, “I am a resident and native of Sumter County. I currently have 24 years of experience in the funeral industry in Sumter County. During those 24 years I have worked closely with two former coroners and the present coroner. I am very familiar with the functions and proper protocol in handling coroner’s cases. I own and operate Aldridge Funeral Services as a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. I am part of the Academy of Graduate Embalmers of Georgia, where I have received extensive training in mass fatality.”
Aldridge had the following words for voters in closing.
“I am dedicated to serving Sumter County whole heartedly. I have also supported this community in by providing services, equipment, and tents for local community events. I support the local school system, as well organizations such as Relay for Life and the Chamber of Commerce. I would consider it as an honor and privilege, rather than an additional job or responsibility. I am always available. I will continue to serve the families in this community with the utmost respect and dignity that they deserve. I provide a dependable and professional service as Funeral Director of Aldridge Funeral Services. I will continue to meet these commitments if elected coroner.
“It is time for a change. I am enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to serve as your coroner. Your vote and support would be greatly appreciated. Please vote on the Republican ballot on May 24 for Scott Aldridge as Sumter County coroner.”
Bobby Hancock-Harris of Americus has previously sought the office of coroner as well as a seat on the Americus City Council.
He said he attended Forest Park High School through the 10th grade, after which he had to leave school to support his mother and younger brother and sister. At Atlanta Area Technical College, he received training as a private security officer, as a plain clothes store detective, and weapons training for work as an attendant in armored car money transfers. At Berean College, he received a diploma in ministerial studies and specialized ministries, and held ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God. He received his GED from South Georgia Technical College. In addition, he obtained certification as a trained enucleator for donor eye procurement from the Georgia Eye Bank. He graduated with honors from the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service and became a member of Pi Sigma Eta National Morticians fraternity (an honors fraternity). Through FEMA, he received mass fatalities training and through GEMA, anti-terrorism and bio-chemical awareness training. He is also a licensed Georgia insurance agent.
As the other candidates, Hancock-Harris was asked what needs to change in the office of Sumter County coroner.
“The Georgia Coroners Association describes a coroner as ‘a government official whose main responsibility is to determine and officially record the manner and cause of deaths that are unexplained or unexpected.’ The coroner’s office is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week operation which investigates and determines cause and manner of death. The coroner’s office is charged by Georgia law to determine the manner and cause of death by an investigation which may include a post-mortem examination. This investigation is independent of the sheriff, police, and fire department, but is done in conjunction with these other entities.
“If elected to the office of coroner, I would work to put into place policies and procedures to make the administration of the office as transparent as possible, and without bias to families’ consent, removal and release of remains to local or distant funeral homes. I pledge that I would work diligently to maintain the public’s trust and confidence.”
As for his qualifications for this office, Hancock-Harris said, “I have experience, education, compassion, community involvement, interpersonal skills, and willingness to listen and learn, all of which are qualities necessary to serve as an adept and efficient coroner. I am trained, both professionally and personally, by the very best: my late father-in-law, Larry Hancock, a former Sumter County coroner and long-time funeral director in Americus.”
In closing, Hancock-Harris to the Times-Recorder, “I moved to Americus in 1992, and am proud to call Sumter County my home. I have been married for 23 years to Lynn Hancock Harris, who is a Sumter County native and lifelong resident, licensed funeral director and embalmer, and former Sumter County educator. We are very proud of our three children: Angela Harris, Jairus Whitley, and Tatum Whitley, and our four grandchildren: Gabe, Nikki, Riley, and Brooke.
“I am a licensed funeral director, embalmer, and preneed insurance agent. Together with my mother-in-law, Mary Louise Hancock, Lynn and I own and operate Hancock Funeral Home on South Lee Street, which recently celebrated its 51st anniversary. I hold the position of vice president and general manager, and have been employed by Hancock Funeral Home for the past 23 years.
“I am the current Master of M.B. Council Lodge 13, a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, a position I have held twice before, in 2010 and 2015, working with our main charity, the Georgia Masonic Children’s Home, and I conduct and officiate Masonic funeral burial rites for families of Masons requesting such. I am also vice president of the Sumter Shrine Club, working with Shriners Children’s Hospitals, and am involved in various other community and professional activities, events, and organizations, including Georgia Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors Association, Academy of Graduate Embalmers of Georgia, and the Military Vehicle Preservation Association.
“Sumter County is my home, where I live, work, and chose to raise my family. I cannot imagine a greater honor than being able to serve this community which has given me so much.
“Please ask for the Republican ballot and elect Bobby Hancock-Harris as Sumter County Coroner. I appreciate your friendship and support.”