Keene to run for county coroner

Republican an emergency room doctor at Kootenai Health

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POST FALLS - Warren Keene plans to make a run for Kootenai County coroner.

Keene, a Post Falls resident and emergency room doctor at Kootenai Health, will seek the Republican nomination during the May primary. This will be his first run for office.

The coroner position is currently held by Deb Wilkey.

Keene started his career as a family medicine doctor and has worked in emergency medicine since the late 1990s. He has been at Kootenai Health for the past 12 years.

"I've been in medicine for 33 years and our nature (as doctors) is to help people," Keene said.

Keene said he's concerned about the increased coroner budget in recent years and believes he can tighten the spending.

"When the budget is increased, that raises people's taxes," Keene said.

Keene said he doesn't believe the coroner's 50 percent budget increase in the past four years has been proportionate to the workload increase for the office.

"The budget and taxes need to be reined back in," he said. "It's like running a small business. You have to set a budget and stay within it."

Keene said he believes his medical experience makes him qualified to fill the position.

"It's a natural fit, and it's one area I can help," he said. "The coroner's duty is to decide on natural versus unnatural death, and I have an understanding of that process. I have the experience and the ability to help the coroner's office."

Keene, 58, said he realizes that if the coroner's office isn't efficient, that has a trickle-down effect to law enforcement and funeral homes.

If elected, Keene said he may do some independent contractor work with Kootenai Health, but being the coroner would be his main focus.

"I realize it's a full-time job," he said, adding that previous coroners have maintained a private practice as well.

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