Havlik switch means primary in coroner’s race
Mesa County Coroner Dean Havlik will seek a third term, but no longer as a Democrat.
Havlik will seek to keep the job as a Republican. He officially changed parties on Dec. 16, according to the Elections Division of the Mesa County Clerk’s Office.
Havlik’s opponent, former Coroner Rob Kurtzman, served two terms as a Republican and is seeking the office again as a Republican, setting up an intraparty contest this year.
“By running as a Republican, the citizens of Mesa County can vote for the best candidate and not worry about voting along party lines,” Havlik said in his emailed announcement of his candidacy. “Many members of our local Republican Party have given me much support over the last few months.”
Kurtzman earlier this year said he wanted his old job back, setting up a contest which appeared to be headed for the November general election.
Now, barring another entrant, it appears that Republicans will decide the race, either at a county convention or primary election.
Kurtzman said he had no direct comment on Havlik’s shift to the Republican Party.
“I really don’t have a specific reaction,” Kurtzman said. “The bottom line is that both of us have attributes which the community benefits by and, obviously, there’s probably lots of questions about why two forensic pathologists are going to square off and run against each other.”
Those issues will be discussed in the coming months, Kurtzman said.
Havlik has noted in previous comments that Kurtzman is “good at the autopsy part” of the office.
In his announcement, Havlik pointed to several “firsts,” including publishing annual statistics and annual suicide reports and statistics, working with the Mesa County Health Department on suicide prevention and reviews of other kinds of deaths and community services such as educating young people to the hazards of drug abuse, alcohol use and smoking.
Havlik listed the completion of a new autopsy facility at Community Hospital as one of the projects he hopes to complete in a third term.
Havlik’s new status as a Republican will make no difference to the party, Mesa County Republican Party Chairwoman Lois Dunn said.
She has met with Havlik and Kurtzman, Dunn said, acknowledging that Kurtzman seems better known among Republicans than Havlik.
In any case, the party will “afford (Havlik) every courtesy” that it does for its members who seek public office, Dunn said.