Local Election

Mark Justen wins McHenry County Coroner's race

McHenry County Coroners office candidates Michael Rein, left, and Mark Justen speak about their qualifications for the elected office of county coroner during a League of Women Voters forum on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.
McHenry County Coroners office candidates Michael Rein, left, and Mark Justen speak about their qualifications for the elected office of county coroner during a League of Women Voters forum on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.

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Mark Justen, owner of Justen Funeral Homes in McHenry, won a tight race for the McHenry County Coroner’s Office on Tuesday, according to the unofficial results of the primary election.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Justen received 7,545, or 35.1% of the votes. His opponents, Woodstock resident Dr. Michael Rein, received 7,052 votes, and Crystal Lake nurse Angela Byrnes got 6,894 votes.

Justen ran as a Republican candidate. There is no Democratic candidate running for coroner.

Justen is the fourth generation of his family to run what now is Justen Funeral Homes.

Former County Coroner Anne Majewski left her position in March 2019. McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim’s then-chief administrative officer, David Devane, took over as interim coroner the day after Majewski left. Devane eventually was replaced by Lt. John Miller.

Since then, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and a third-party medical consultant have released evaluations of the coroner’s office highlighting multiple operational and security issues.

However, following the release of the third-party report, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said the evaluation shows that having an elected coroner is wrong and that he will seek assistance from the county board to determine how to professionalize the office.

Justen said he is “very humbled” to know that the people who voted for him understood that he was the most qualified person for the coroner position.

As coroner, Justen said he will start looking into seeing that the McHenry County Office is accredited.

“For 43 years, I’ve been a funeral director, dealing with death and dying,” Justen said. “I’ve been up all hours at night, I’ve been to all different tragedies, all different crime scenes, and so I know i was the most experienced.”

“I ran a good, clean race,” he said. “I didn’t smear anybody’s name.”

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