Johnny Gray and Courtney Gross debate in 2016 during their respective bids for the Dade coroner's job. Now that Gray is stepping down, Ms. Courtney is to be appointed to replace him pending the 2020 election.
Johnny Gray, Dade's longtime coroner, presented county boss Ted Rumley with a letter of resignation on Monday and stepped down immediately, Rumley confirmed this morning. "His health had gotten so bad, he didn't feel like he could do the job," said Rumley.
Rumley said Gray had had a heart attack and two strokes, the heart attack before his last election and the strokes more recently. Gray said at debates during his campaign for that 2016 election that he had a family history of heart failure and expected to succumb to it himself eventually. When asked, in fact, why so many deaths in Dade were pronounced due to heart attacks, Gray said that most of the time the cause of a person’s death could be discerned even before a person had died. Whatever the person’s father and grandfather had died of would probably get the person as well, he said.“It’s genetic,” said Gray. “You can’t beat it.”
Gray's opponent during that debate was Courtney Gross, a nurse practitioner. Now, said Rumley, Dade Probate Judge Kerri Bray Carter plans to appoint Ms. Gross as Gray's replacement pending the next election in 2020. Judge Carter was not in her office on Tuesday but her assistant, Lynn Buffington, confirmed the intended appointment.
Gray had served as Dade's coroner for 29 years, running for the job initially and repeatedly as a Democrat until finally, in 2016, he joined the stampede to the GOP, leaving Tax Commissioner Jane Moreland as the sole remaining Democrat in office in Dade.
Coroners are responsible for pronouncing residents dead and determining the cause of death. In smaller counties like Dade, they are not required to be doctors but are usually health care professionals.Gray is an emergency medical technician.
In each election, the question arises what the difference is between a Republican coroner and a Democratic coroner--a question that could be applied, for that matter, to most county elected offices--but the structure of election fees makes it unlikely either party will ever advocate for freeing these posts from party affiliation.
Ms. Gross also ran as a Republican during the 2016 race.