It didn’t take the seismic election of President Donald Trump to mobilize Dr. Christina VandePol to action on behalf of the citizens of Chester County. Now a Democratic candidate for the Chester County Coroner, she has been an active area volunteer for more than ten years, most recently teaching English to adult learners.
But VandePol, a medical doctor board-certified in endocrinology and internal medicine, is also a business-savvy entrepreneur who launched EnPharma Consulting, a successful clinical research consulting firm. After retiring, VandePol is now an adjunct faculty member at Delaware County Community College, teaching human anatomy and physiology to future health care students.
What brought you into this race for Chester County Coroner?
After last year’s Presidential election, I wanted to get involved politically. My expertise is in medicine, so I decided I would run for Coroner, because I knew I could do a good job and it would allow me to have a voice in the political arena.
What does a Coroner do in Chester County?
The official responsibilities include investigating suspicious or unexpected deaths, including suicides, homicides, and accidents. A little-known fact? Permission for cremation must be approved in advance by the Coroner. The position of Coroner is a full-time job, but it hasn’t been treated like one. I plan to make it my full-time job if I’m elected. I must, in order to accomplish what I hope to achieve and it’s what Chester County residents deserve.
As coroner, I don’t want to limit what I do to signing death certificates. As a Coroner, you have insight into tragic events occurring in people’s lives – so I want to educate residents in an effort to prevent some of these tragedies. Opioid overdoses are a huge concern of mine. I want to look at the root causes. We need information and data that will tell us what we can do. For example, more people are dying from suicide in Chester County than from motor vehicle accidents. Most suicides here are by use of a firearm, so to inform myself about guns, I recently took a gun safety training course and attended a meeting held by Chester County Gun Sense. They are an excellent group that has some very commonsense ideas about ways to control guns without preventing people involved in sports activities from owning them.
It’s important to dialogue with people of different views. How can you effectively speak to an issue if you know nothing about what you are talking about? You must see it from both viewpoints and meet in the middle somewhere.
What are you learning about Chester County?
Chester County has rural and suburban areas (as well as more urban areas, like Coatesville and West Chester). I grew up in a completely rural area, went to college in a suburb, and then to medical school in a city, so I feel like I have a toe-hold in all these places. We are very fortunate here and affluent in many ways. But certainly there are people who have been left behind – their future is not what they thought it would be. One of the great things about running for office is that I have met so many fine Chester County residents with whom I’ve been able to engage in discussions. I have learned a lot from the people I’ve met.