Coroner candidate resigns from VA post

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Ted Sullivan
Saturday, August 21, 2010

When Terry Holder filed as a candidate for Rock County coroner, she had no idea she was violating federal law.

Holder, an employee at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, couldn’t be a candidate because of the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from running in partisan elections.

She was given a choice: resign or drop out of the race.

“I decided to stay in the running,” Holder said.

Holder resigned from her job as an autopsy assistant and phlebotomist at the hospital. She was there seven years. She currently is unemployed.

“If I didn’t truly believe I had a great chance of taking office, I wouldn’t have given up my job,” Holder said. “I feel I have a large number of supporters down here.”

Holder became aware of the violation after her election papers were filed and approved.

A complaint against Holder was made with the Rock County Clerk’s Office, County Clerk Lori Stottler said. She forwarded the complaint to the Rock County District Attorney’s Office.

The district attorney’s office confirmed that Holder was violating the Hatch Act, and Holder called the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the law.

The special counsel office told Holder she had to resign from her job or withdraw from the race, Holder said. She resigned Aug. 12.

If she’s not elected, she could reapply for her job at the hospital or find another. Meanwhile, she said unemployment is worth the risk of possibly becoming coroner.

Holder of Milton is challenging Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach of Janesville.

Voters will decide in a November referendum whether they want to continue electing a coroner or have the county appoint a medical examiner. A change would not be effective until 2014 because Keach or Holder will be elected to a four-year term.

The county board also wouldn’t have to follow the referendum’s outcome because it will be advisory and not binding.

Last updated: 2:40 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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