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Primary challenge in coroner’s race

The race for Douglas County coroner is the only locally contested contest on this month’s primary ballot. Todd Ray of Tuscola is challenging incumbent Lisa Edwards of Arcola.
Edwards was appointed to the position in 2022, succeeding Heather Skinner, who had been appointed by the Douglas County Board in 2020 following the death of long-time coroner Joe Victor.
The County Chronicle asked the candidates to respond to a questionnaire to explain their qualifications and interest. The following are their responses, unedited.

Lisa Edwards

My name is Lisa Edwards, have lived in Douglas County my entire life.

I grew up on the east side of Arcola, after marriage moved to the west side, upon opening the funeral home we moved to the middle, as our family grew, we moved out to the country just east of Arcola, in Bourbon Twp and that is where we happily reside to this day.

My husband Jeff Edwards and I have been happily married since 1990. God gave us 3 amazing children, Cara who is married to Corey Roberts, they have given us two amazing grandchildren, Camryn 5 and Cooper 3.

Taylor now works and lives in Nashville, TN and Beau, our youngest is currently going to Mortuary school.

Our family has been extremely active throughout out community our entire lives. My husband and I both graduated from Arcola High School as did our children. We were all very active in sports which kept us involved in our community over the years and we have loved every minute of that. We continue to support several extracurricular activities that Arcola provides to our youth. We feel very blessed by our small community and enjoy living and serving in Douglas County.

Following High School I attended Parkland College where I graduated with an Associate’s degree in in Dental Hygiene and worked for Dr. Smith for several years. I also have my EMT-I license. I have served on several boards and committees over the years, way too many to count. I have coached our children during their youth sports, I also coached at the Jr High and High school level, lead FCA at Arcola Jr High and High School, hosted many youth group events, and taught more CPR classes than I can count. If you know me, then you are aware of my love for dogs. I can often be found walking, grooming, or just loving on my dogs, and I have had a few extra furry friends live with us temporarily over the years. I will never grow out of that. I am currently serving on the Douglas County 911board, where I have been for over 25 years. I also sit on the Arcola Foundation Board. I am very active in my church and my goal is to live by the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

In November of 1992 Jeff and I opened the Edwards Funeral Home. I eventually started working full time with Jeff in the funeral home where we raised our 3 children in the process. We also operated the Arcola Ambulance service for over 10 years. It was an all-volunteer ambulance service that served Arcola and the surrounding areas with care and compassion.
Our daughter Cara works at the funeral home as our office manager, Beau is also there as well, working alongside his dad, learning the business while he is going to school.
With that being said, I still wear many hats at the funeral home, but with our children there to help my plate isn’t quite as full.

In 2020 Heather Skinner was elected as Douglas County Coroner. She asked me to serve as her Chief Deputy Coroner. With my education in the medical field, over 30 years in the death care industry and my 10 years of working on the ambulance service, I felt I had a good background and experience to take on this role. I worked very closely with Heather sharing new ideas and making sure we were serving Douglas County to the best of our ability.

In July of 2022, Heather had to step down and she asked me if I would consider taking over as Coroner of Douglas County. With much prayer and conversation with my husband and family I accepted her offer. On September 1, 2022, I was appointed by the Douglas County Board to the position of Douglas County Coroner.

I have enjoyed getting to know everyone in the county offices and have worked very closely with many of them to ensure that I am serving our county professionally with honor and respect. I am not afraid to ask questions and learn from every experience. I feel asking questions may show my ignorance, but it is also one of the best ways to grow as a human being.

I am fully committed to serving Douglas County. If I am elected, I will continue to fully commit myself to serving Douglas County with the utmost integrity and expertise. It will be my priority to work tirelessly to ensure our Douglas County community receives the best possible service and support during times of loss and grief, caring for each family with compassion respect and dignity.
I am very honored and humbled to be considered for this opportunity to serve Douglas County as Coroner.

Todd Ray
Spouse’s Name:
Chana Ray, we have been married for almost 33 years
Children’s Names and Ages:
One son – Christian Ray, 26
One daughter – Brooke Ray, 22
One grandson – Asher, 8
One granddaughter – Ava, 3 months
Education Information:
Coroner Basic Training Certification
Bachelor Degree from University of Illinois in Chemical Engineering
EMT-Intermediate License through State of Illinois
Certified Fire Investigator through State of Illinois
Current Employer:
I am employed at Cabot Corporation in Tuscola for the past almost 30 years and am currently a Lead Production Engineer.
I also am the Assistant Fire Chief for the Tuscola Fire Department
Personal History with Coroner’s Office
I started with the Coroner’s office in 2010.  I have held positions of Deputy Coroner, Death Investigator, and Chief Deputy Coroner under Joe Victor and was appointed interim Coroner when Joe passed away.  I am currently still serving as a Deputy Coroner.
Other relevant work or volunteer experience
I have been a volunteer firefighter on Tuscola Fire Department since 2010.  I earned my Fire Investigator Certification in 2011 and have been investigating fires in Tuscola and surrounding areas since then. I am qualified to investigate fire related deaths as well. I have also volunteered on the Douglas County Search and Rescue group as a trained searcher.
Hobbies / Interests
I enjoy hunting and fishing and spending time with my family.
Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position
I feel that my history on the Coroner’s Office as well as my history in Emergency Services and lifelong learning make me the best candidate for Douglas County Coroner.
I have a strong history with investigation and a drive to find the solution to any situation presented.
I feel that this position requires empathy and caring for those who have lost a loved one in order to assist them in their time of grief. I have proven over the past 14 years that I can perform this service to the community.

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