If all goes as planned, Dr. Jon Thogmartin will become Pinellas-Pasco's new medical examiner.
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE
St. Petersburg Times
September 2, 2000
LARGO -- Some members of the local committee searching for a new Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner wondered whether Dr. Jon Thogmartin really wanted the job.
It seemed as if he wanted it. He applied. He interviewed. But some wondered anyway, especially since he had been the chief medical examiner in Palm Beach County just since April 1999. Was the Pinellas-Pasco job simply a negotiating chip?
Thogmartin, 36, quickly put those fears to rest Friday when he verbally agreed to accept the post if, as is widely expected, Gov. Jeb Bush eventually appoints him to replace Dr. Joan Wood, who will retire Sept. 30.
Thogmartin, who had been offered a $10,000 pay increase by Palm Beach County to stay, said he is ready to start work Nov. 1, the effective date of his resignation in Palm Beach.
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who did not return calls for comment, is expected to appoint an interim medical examiner for the month between Wood's retirement and Thogmartin's start date.
"I'm a little nervous about the unknown, but I'm looking forward to it," said Thogmartin, a Texas native who has performed more than 2,000 autopsies. Pinellas-Pasco is "undoubtedly the best (medical examiner) job in Florida."
Thogmartin was one of five candidates interviewed for the job Thursday by a search committee composed of local police, prosecutors, the public defender, funeral-industry representatives and county officials.
Thogmartin was the committee's near-unanimous choice to replace Wood. The Florida Medical Examiner Commission still must approve the choice. But its approval is considered a formality. The commission is expected to recommend Thogmartin to the governor, who makes the three-year appointment.
Bush is expected to approve the selection by Nov. 1.
Thogmartin said he considers the Pinellas-Pasco post a top job for several reasons: The circuit plans to open a new 44,000-square-foot facility by 2002; the office operates its own toxicology and crime lab, something Palm Beach County doesn't do; and Thogmartin can work as an independent contractor.
In Palm Beach County, he reports to the county commission, an arrangement he said impairs his ability to operate the office as he sees fit.
Thogmartin now is setting his sights on a transition. He said he will immediately try to gauge whether any of Wood's employees or associates plan to leave along with her. He said he has heard that most, if not all, plan to stay.
"I hope everybody stays," Thogmartin said. Thogmartin earns $125,000 in Palm Beach County. Wood earns $145,000. Thogmartin's new salary hasn't been determined.