by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—Retired Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer will reprise his role as an investigator for the next four months, as he steps into the role of interim Kane County Coroner.
Sauer was sworn in as interim coroner on Aug. 14, after the Kane County Board approved his selection by Board Chairperson Karen McConnaughay. Sauer, who retired from the Sugar Grove Police Department on July 1, will serve out the remainder of the term of Charles West, the former Kane County Coroner who died on July 4 and had been under indictment for official misconduct.
McConnaughay said Sauer was the “most well-rounded candidate,” citing his 24 years in the Police Department, including nearly a decade as police chief; his six years as a Kane County Board member between 1990 and 1996; and his stint as president of the Kane County Forest Preserve.
“There were 10 or 11 candidates, and they had a wide variety of backgrounds and were all good candidates,” McConnaughay said. “I thought that because Brad Sauer had a background in law enforcement and in county government and in administration, he was the best qualified for the position.”
Sauer will hold the office through Dec. 1, when he will be replaced by the winner of the Nov. 6 election. The two candidates running for the coroner’s position are DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Russell, a Republican, and Tao Martinez, an Aurora Democrat and founder of ArchAngels BioRecovery, a company that decontaminates death scenes following accidents, suicides, homicides and other deaths.
In the meantime, Sauer said he hopes to prepare the coroner’s office so that there is a smooth transition between administrations.
“Really, not even a week into the job, I’m still trying to sort out quite a few thing and try to determine what is the biggest task so that I can leave the office in the best possible position for whoever the person is who starts Dec. 1,” Sauer said. “I want to try to get as much accomplished as possible to help out the office, try to make it accountable to the citizens of Kane County and make it run smoothly. The goal is to winnow the chaff from the grain and set priorities.”
Though Sauer said he considers the Coroner’s Office to be both a law enforcement position and an investigative position, he said it is different from his role as a police chief.
“The police department tries to find the people that caused the death, while the coroner’s office tries to find out the cause of death, and we let the police department go from there,” Sauer said. “For me personally, it’s working with the chief deputy coroner and the deputies and trying to determine what needs to be done in the investigation to come up with the answers that we’re looking for.”
Though Sauer will receive a pension for his years in the Police Department, his position as interim coroner will not increase that pension or make him eligible to receive a second pension, he said.
“I’m not taking any pension, not taking any health insurance or anything, just what the board determines is the starting wage for the coroner,” Sauer said. “It’s not adding to a county pension, and the (police) pension which I will be getting one of these days (as soon as the paperwork goes through) is from downstate. They can’t mix. You have to have seven years to be vested in the county, and I only had six (when I was a board member). The few months I will be here won’t be enough to make it seven years, so I can only get back what I put in originally. We got it straightened out that I wasn’t trying to collect two different pensions.”