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Former Sheriff Ted Paxton to run for coroner
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Ted Paxton

A former elected official has announced he is running for the Forsyth County Coroner seat in 2020.

Ted Paxton, who served as Forsyth County Sheriff from 2001-12, recently announced his campaign for the seat.

Paxton said the coroner’s office is a “very intricate part of the criminal justice system and should not be taken lightly.”

“I have a long history of service to the community, a strong background in law enforcement and the office of coroner cannot be taken lightly. It is so closely intertwined with so many aspects of the criminal justice system,” Paxton said.

Before being elected sheriff, Paxton was a member of the DeKalb County Police Department from March 1972 until December 2000, where he reached the rank of captain and was involved in death investigations.

“I was leading those investigations, and by virtue of that understand and realize the way that the coroner’s office and law enforcement is so entwined that the proper and correct identification of the cause and manner of death becomes a critical component in any homicide investigation or beyond that in death investigations. It could have to do with civil ramifications down the road,” Paxton said.

During his time as sheriff, Forsyth County nearly doubled in size and the Sheriff’s Office staff grew from 230 to 390. He was named Public Safety Officer of the Year by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2004, won the President’s Award from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association in 2008 and was honored as Sheriff of the Year by the state of Georgia in 2009.

Paxton said he has deep family roots in Forsyth County. His mother’s side of the family has been in the county since 1832, Paxton said, and was involved with starting the former Chestatee High School.

Though his parents moved to the Brookhaven area to be closer to his father’s job, Paxton said he always considered Forsyth home and has lived here since the mid-90s.

Paxton said he is not affiliated with any local funeral home, which is not uncommon for coroners.

“It’s an opportunity to serve,” Paxton said. “One of my strong-held beliefs is that the office of coroner must be an independent and autonomous office. Forsyth County has grown to where it is today, I have so many concerns about the funeral home industry being intertwined with the coroner’s office. I strongly feel that it lends itself for a potential conflict of interest and doesn’t need to be there.”

Paxton is running for the seat held by Coroner Lauren McDonald, who has held the seat since 2017 and is seeking the District 26 state House seat in 2020.

Candidates Gary Coffey, a funeral director with Darby Funeral Home in Canton, and Paul Holbrook, who serves as a deputy coroner and is a funeral director at McDonald and Son Funeral Home, have also said they plan to run for the seat.