Republican commission candidates emerge early

Newcomer Davis, Rowland file papers

Two Republican candidates have filed paperwork to run for Mesa County commissioner in 2020, in the seats currently occupied by term-limited commissioners Rose Pugliese and John Justman.

Former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland and newcomer Cody Davis filed campaign finance documents with the Secretary of State’s office last month. Rowland will run in District 3, currently occupied by Pugliese, and Davis will run in District 1, currently occupied by Justman.

Davis is a contractor and land developer who owns Chronos Builders and has been building homes since 2004. He most recently served as chairman of the Grand Valley Drainage District Board but said he resigned from the position when he moved out of the area he was representing this week. He’s also a former president of the Housing and Building Association of Western Colorado.

Davis is a native of the area and graduated from Fruita Monument High School in 2004. He said he’s interested in being a county commissioner because he wants to help improve government processes, focusing on efficiency and common-sense solutions.

In the past year, Davis worked closely with the county building department to resolve issues with delays in permitting and inspections. He said he valued working with the department to troubleshoot the process, which ultimately raised fees, allowing the department to be self-funded and rearrange staffing to speed up the process.

“I want to run for commissioner because I want to be an ardent defender of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “I see government a lot in the building world … and sometimes we do things for reasons we don’t really understand.”

Davis is married, and he and his wife have been foster parents for the past eight years. They are fostering a baby and have three adopted children and two biological children.

He said his firsthand knowledge of the foster care system is also something that he values in running for commissioner.

Rowland, a former two-term county commissioner, works as the national director for Project 1.27, a faith-based nonprofit that recruits and supports foster families. She has contracted with the county to campaign for foster parent recruitment for the past few years and served as the executive director of Mesa County CASA, which provides trained volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in the foster system.

Rowland’s career began in Mesa County as a child-protection worker in the Department of Human Services. She then served as spokeswoman for Human Services before serving as commissioner and said her reason for running now is the same as it was before her first term.

“For me, it’s always been about kids and families,” she said.

Rowland took a special interest in the human services department during her previous term, which has the biggest budget and the largest number of employees of any county department.

“I think it’s important to have someone there who really has a grasp of it,” she said.

She said her campaign will center on three cornerstones.

“Mesa County is a family- friendly environment and a business-friendly environment, and I think the foundation to both of those is prioritizing public safety,” she said.

Rowland is a political veteran who ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 on the Republican ticket with candidate Bob Beauprez.

She recently launched a campaign against a Court of Appeals judge called Justice for All, encouraging voters to oust Judge Craig Welling. He was one of three judges who overturned a 2015 conviction of a convicted serial child molester, which led to his release from a 324-year prison sentence.

The District 3 race may end up having additional candidates if others who have indicated they have an interest in running, file their paperwork with the state.

Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner said she’s still considering a run, though the seat would vacate in the middle of her term. J.J. Fletcher, a longtime Palisade businessman, said he’s also thinking of running for the seat.

Fletcher works in outside sales for Kimball Midwest, which services the mining and drilling industry. He most recently ran as an unaffiliated candidate for House District 54 in 2014 against Republican Yeulin Willett and Democrat Brad Webb.

Fletcher said if he decides to run for the District 3 seat, it will be as a Republican.

“I think we’ve resolved our differences,” he said of the Mesa County Republican Party.

Mesa County Democrats Chairwoman Maria Keenan said her organization has not found any candidates for commissioner yet but is looking for volunteers.

“Our door is open to anybody who wants to run for office,” she said.

Posted in The Daily Sentinel 1/11/2019