Mesa County Sheriff Todd Rowell

TODD ROWELL

Mesa County Undersheriff will fill vacancy when Matt Lewis leaves his post on Aug. 6

There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Todd Rowell.

On Monday, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners is expected to appoint Rowell to the position effective Aug. 6, the day current Sheriff Matt Lewis plans to leave the post.

Rowell is Lewis’ undersheriff.

“Undersheriff Todd Rowell is a qualified elector and long-term resident of Mesa County, has served as Mesa County undersheriff since March 3, 2018, and is well qualified to serve as sheriff based upon his background, training and experience,” the commissioners’ wrote in a resolution they are to vote on Monday that would make his appointment official.

When Lewis announced earlier this month his plans to retire from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office after 25 years on the job, six as its sheriff, he recommended that Rowell replace him.

His appointment will be until the end of next year, when voters will elect a permanent sheriff. Rowell is running for the job. He’s already created a campaign finance account with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Colorado law calls on a county commission to appoint openings in other elected positions in their counties.

Lewis said he decided not to seek re-election to the post, preferring instead to find a new career. He is to be director of safety and security at Community Hospital just a few days after he leaves the sheriff’s office.

“I’m too young to retire, but I wanted to stay in Grand Junction,” the 46-year-old Lewis told The Daily Sentinel in announcing his departure. “The timing is always difficult of when to leave, and I’m firmly convinced there isn’t one. You just have to pull the pin and figure out when it works.”

Lewis began his law enforcement career as a detentions deputy at the Mesa County Jail, later becoming an investigator with the Drug Task Force, and then a sergeant overseeing various divisions, including the professional standards unit, the property crimes unit and the complex crimes unit.

He was first elected sheriff in 2014, and re-elected to a second term in 2018. Unlike other county elected positions, he was eligible to run for a third term. County voters approved that additional term for sheriff, district attorney and coroner several years ago.

Rowell, a Colorado native, was raised in a nearby coal mining town, and spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school.

When his four-year tour of duty was complete, he attended the Police Academy at Delta-Montrose Technical College in 2000, and was hired by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office soon after graduation.

Later, when Rowell was a sergeant in the sheriff’s office, he earned an associate degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Colorado Mesa University. He also is a graduate of the County Sheriffs of Colorado Command Staff Institute and Northwestern University’s Supervision of Police Personnel program.

During his service, Rowell has received several awards, including two life-saving medals, and served six years as president of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Association.