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Ethics code change may shape coroner's race
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Forsyth County News


A change being considered for Forsyth County’s ethics code could impact this year’s election for coroner.

During a public hearing Thursday, a resident who is considering running for the post spoke out against altering the conflict of interest transactions section of the code.

Harold Bennett said the new language, if approved, would allow someone else reportedly wanting to run for coroner to hold elected office and a contract with the county.

“Now, he could not obtain that position because it would interfere with the way he runs his business,” Bennett said. “He can give up his contract and run, or he cannot run and keep his contract.”

He said the contract and the office could be a conflict of interest in terms of financial benefit.

Bennett, a retired investigator from a medical examiner’s office, did not name the possible candidate.

The current coroner, Lauren McDonald, said Friday that he doesn’t hold any contracts with the county.

No one, including McDonald, has formally announced an intent to run for coroner, which will be on the ballot in the July primary and November general election.

The proposed changes to the code would set provisions to determine if a conflict of interest exists, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

The code currently reads: “The county shall not enter into any contract involving services or property with an official or employee or with a business entity in which the official or employee has an interest.”

The proposed changes would add a method to allow such a transaction assuming five conditions are met.

Those include: “no official act or duty related to the contract;” a competitive bid process; the individual discloses the business affiliation; the person submits a written statement to the purchasing department affirming no advantages have been received due to county relationship; and the contract is not prohibited by law.

The second public hearing for the change will take place in March, at which time the commission can vote on the measure.