CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After a quarter-century in the role, Rae Wooten announced she will retire at the end of the year.
Wooten said Thursday she will not seek re-election the fall. She has endorsed Chief Deputy Coroner Bobbi Jo O'Neal for the post.
Wooten released the following statement:
For the last 25 years, I have served the people of Charleston County in the Coroner’s Office – first as Deputy Coroner, then as the Chief Deputy, and as Coroner for nearly 14 years. Throughout the last three decades, I have worked diligently to provide the best service to those who have died and their families, the residents and taxpayers.
In the performance of my job duties – answering the late-night calls, responding to complicated and heart-wrenching scenes, and delivering life-changing news to loved ones that shake them and you to the core, I can truly say I have been blessed. This calling is one that I would not trade for the world, as I have been able to assist those I have served in their most difficult times of need.
My career has taught me a couple of absolutes about the Charleston County Coroner: the Coroner must be experienced, must be knowledgeable, must be compassionate, must be patient, must be selfless, and must be committed fully to the great task 24/7/365 days of the year, every year.
After much prayerful consideration and many conversations with my family and staff, I have made the very difficult decision to not seek re-election for the Office of Coroner. I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve as Coroner, but now is the time to pursue some other opportunities. That said, I know that my replacement must be someone who embodies the principles listed above.
This elected office is not one that can afford political gamesmanship; it requires the ability to rise above political partisanship. It requires reaching across the aisle to get the necessary tools and training, to educate decision-makers, and to deliver for the people of Charleston County.
There is no one more prepared or equipped to handle this enormous responsibility than my Chief Deputy, Bobbi Jo O’Neal. She has worked alongside me for many years – demonstrating her commitment, compassion and professionalism, while also seeing our office become one of only 26 in the country accredited by the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.
I thank my family and all Charleston County residents for the trust they have placed in my service. I look forward to continue serving our community in new ways in the future.
During Wooten’s career, she has served during tragedies like the Sofa Super Store fire in 2007 and the Mother Emanuel AME church shooting in 2015.