QUINCY -- Catherine Morrison Wright of Camp Point, Ill., has announced she is seeking the Republican nomination for Adams County coroner in the March 17, 2020, primary election.
Wright is the second person to reveal plans to run for the coroner's post held by Republican incumbent John Myers, who isn't seeking re-election. Scott Graham, chief deputy coroner, announced in September he intends to seek the Republican nomination.
Winners from the Republican and Democratic primaries will advance to the general election on Nov. 3, 2020.
Wright, 57, is a Quincy native who has lived in Adams County all her life. In an interview, she said she feels qualified for the coroner's job because of her years of experience in emergency medical services, home health care, hospital patient care and grief counseling.
The coroner's office is responsible for processing deaths, issuing death certificates, overseeing autopsies when needed, conducting inquests and, in many cases, informing next-of-kin that a loved one has died.
Wright said she's had many experiences over the years in her work and personal life that have prepared her to be a coroner.
"I know what tragedy is like," she said.
Wright, who raised seven children, worked six years as a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) in northern Adams County.
"My very first run as a new EMT was a full code (when someone's heart stops working), and I had to do CPR all the way from Mendon to Blessing Hospital," she said.
Wright also worked in several medical-related jobs that opened her eyes to life-and-death situations resulting from diseases, accidents, old age and other causes.
For example, while studying for a bachelor's degree in theology from Quincy University from 2003 to 2007, Wright worked at Blessing Hospital as a patient care assistant -- a type of nurse's aide.
"At that time I worked on the floor with the most critically ill patients, and most of those didn't come home," she said. "They passed away in the hospital. If it was my patient, then I would be accountable to prepare the bodies and either take them to the morgue or have them ready for the funeral director to come and pick them up."
Wright's experience in dealing with death expanded further when her son Robert Steinbrecher, who served in Iraq with the Marines, died of suicide in 2011.
That experience prompted Wright to become a volunteer peer mentor with Tragedy Assisted Programs for Survivors (TAPS), a nonprofit grief support organization. She still counsels other parents who have had an adult child die from suicide.
Wright, who is receiving training in grief support, also hosts a monthly coffee hour for families with a military loss, and she helps coordinate a monthly care group to offer support "if someone is struggling with grief."
Wright thinks her experience would be helpful if she's elected coroner.
"Working with the deceased is a very, very small part of this very big job," she said.
"The big part is dealing with the families, and that's where I have years and years of experience of interacting with the public in loss and death," she said. "It's also about running a wonderful office with business ethics and morals to the highest standard."
For the past eight years Wright has been a full-time home health care manager for an elderly Quincy woman who needs around-the-clock care. Wright also manages a dozen part-time workers who help care for the woman.
Wright said if she gets elected, "I will be a full-time coroner" and will make sure she receives all the training, certification and continuing education needed to keep the office running smoothly "and making sure that everything is accountable to the highest level."