La Plata County Coroner Janis “Jann” Smith announced Friday she will run for re-election in November.
Smith, a Republican, has held the position since 2012 after being appointed by La Plata County commissioners when Dr. Carol Huser stepped down. Smith then ran for election in 2014 and won. She is also the coroner for the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.
Smith is a certified death investigator with the state of Colorado and has additional certification through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
She said she is seeking a second term because she is passionate about her job and helping people.
“It is a difficult time in a person’s life when someone passes away, naturally or unexpectedly,” she said. “People don’t know what to do, and so I like to be there to help them through that difficult situation.”
It is the coroner’s job to determine the cause and manner of a person’s death, Smith said.
“I represent the deceased individual,” she said. “He or she is my responsibility. I work closely with family and law enforcement, but my responsibility is to the deceased.”
Smith said she conducts an initial investigation at the scene of a death and determines if there is cause for an autopsy. She is joined once a week by a forensic pathologist from Denver who assists with the autopsies.
If elected to the four-year position, Smith said she will continue to “better my knowledge of the whole process.”
“There is a lot to learn, and you often learn something new,” she said. “I think that I’ve earned the respect of a lot of citizens for the work I do.”
So far, Smith is the only person to formally announced candidacy for the position.