A challenger for the office of Garfield County Coroner is criticizing longtime incumbent Coroner Trey Holt, referring to him as an “absentee elected official” who collects a $44,000 salary while paying a team of deputies to investigate deaths in the county.
“I have always thought the coroner’s office should be a full-time job, and that’s one of the problems I have with the way it’s run now,” Robert Glassmire, a deputy for the past decade with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.
“This is not a full-time job for Trey. It will be a primary job for me,” said Glassmire, who announced his intentions to challenge Holt for the Republican nomination to run for the coroner’s office this year.
Holt, who owns Farnum-Holt Funeral Home in Glenwood Springs, has held the office since 1994 and was a deputy coroner himself for many years prior to that. He told the Post Independent on Friday that he intends to run for re-election.
“The coroner’s office has worked very well, and we’ve never had any controversy,” he said. “My deputies are trained, and they have been part of search and rescue and have done homicide trainings. I stand on what I’ve done here.”
The coroner is one of several Garfield County elected offices up for election in November, including the sheriff, clerk and recorder, assessor, treasurer, surveyor and the county commissioner seat held by Tom Jankovsky.
The election season begins with party caucuses on March 5 and party assemblies later that month. The Republican and Democratic primaries will be in late June, followed by the general election on Nov. 4.
Party candidates must either earn 30 percent of the delegate vote at their county assembly to make the primary ballot, or can petition onto the ballot if they receive at least 10 percent of the delegates at assembly.
“In my 11 years as a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy, four of which have been as a criminal investigator, I have realized the importance of a thorough and comprehensive medicolegal death investigation,” Glassmire, 33, said in a news release announcing his candidacy.
“The coroner has a duty to treat the deceased and their surviving loved ones with dignity, care, respect and compassion,” he said.
Glassmire said he believes the elected coroner should be the lead official in death investigations, but that he will maintain a team of deputy coroners who are “properly trained, equipped and have the aptitude to carry out the mission of the coroner’s office.”
“When polling law enforcement around the county I have not been able to find anyone who has said Mr. Holt has responded to a death investigation in the capacity of a coroner,” he said.
In addition to earning the regular coroner’s salary, he noted that Holt uses the public coroner’s budget to pay his deputies $125 per investigation.
Glassmire lists as qualifications his “hundreds of hours” in classroom training, including homicide investigations, interview and interrogation, evidence collection, victim’s rights issues, child abuse, child death investigations, and sexual assault investigations.
He also attended the Medicolegal Death Investigator Training Course at the St. Louis Department of Pathology, which is attended by death investigators nationwide.
In addition, as a sheriff’s deputy he said he has investigated all types of deaths including those involving children, adults, homicides, suicides, natural deaths and accidental deaths.
Glassmire is originally from Kalamazoo, Mich., and was in the Marine Corps Reserve when he moved to Colorado and joined the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office in 2002. The following year, he was called up to serve a tour in Iraq, where he was in the Mortuary Affairs Unit.
He completed his military service in 2007. Glassmire and his wife, Keri, have 3 children and live in Battlement Mesa.
“I have always thought the coroner’s office should be a full-time job, and that’s one of the problems I have with the way it’s run now.”
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy