Supes tap veteran Rowland to fill last Pima County constable vacancy
Pima County filled the vacant post of constable for Justice Precinct 1 on Tuesday with Daniel Rowland, after two candidates who lived outside the precinct tried to nab the appointment by the Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 at their Tuesday meeting to appoint Rowland, a Republican. He will now take the seat left open by John Dorer in early November.
Constables are elected officials who serve legal documents, mostly evictions but also restraining orders, for the Justice Courts. JP 1 includes Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills and Tanque Verde and stretches north to Mt. Lemmon as well as parts of Tucson's North Side.
Rowland is a veteran, having spent 14 years in the U.S. Army and three years as an Apache helicopter crew chief. He also has training as an emergency medical technician, and is a workforce trainer for Pima Community College.
The county board planned to appoint a JP1 constable in early December, but both of the applicants for the post lived outside the precinct.
Supervisor Matt Heinz suggested leaving Dorer’s seat empty, and although he had no support, County Administrator Jan Lesher also looked to slash the salaries of constables who do less work than others in the office.
Lesher has been pressuring the constables to more evenly divide their workloads, a priority that former Assistant County Administrator Mark Napier set for the “fractured group” of constables.
“Rebel eviction enforcer” Kristen Randall left the constables last January because of a “great divide” in the office and “archaic” practices.
Last August, her replacement Deborah Martinez was shot and killed in North Side Tucson while serving an eviction.
Since then, Acting Presiding Constable Bill Lake has been lobbying the county board for more resources, partly to improve safety but also better split up their responsibilities.
Lake asked the supervisors to hire two deputy constables in December. The board shot the idea down, with Chairwoman Sharon Bronson saying it’s a “temporary situation, and we’ve got a permanent solution” in hiring new employees.
The board did, however, approve tasers, bulletproof vests and body-worn cameras, which Lake said would help with safety, at the same meeting where they hired Anton Chism as constable for JP 10.
Michael Stevenson, the former presiding constable, resigned his seat in that precinct in October. When Dorer resigned a few weeks later, Lake said the constables were severely shorthanded as two others were injured and one, Esther Gonzalez, had “basically quit” since Martinez’s death.
Gonzalez was also a lame duck as she had not sought reelection for her seat in JP2. Francisco Lopez, a Democrat like Gonzalez, has since taken her spot after winning his election in November and started his term with the new year.
With Rowland’s appointment, the constables are now fully staffed, but Pima County has eliminated JP 5, the precinct Lake was appointed to serve in 2021.
Lake has since been elected to serve JP 8, the Midtown Tucson precinct previously held by Martinez and Randall.
Talking with TucsonSentinel.com, Lake has said that he plans to hold on to the presiding constable spot to help standardize training, but constables will be able to choose their presiding constable now that they’re fully staffed.
The Pima County Constables Office has been racked with problems during the past few years, with three constables coming under investigation by the State Constable Ethics, Standards and Training Board for the allegations against them.
Martinez was under investigation for fraud, perjury and forgery at the time of her death. Constable Omar Vazquez was suspended in 2021 for six months after he refused to serve an eviction, and faces another complaint with CESTB regarding alleged lewd messages sent to a constituent. Constable George Camacho was accused of threatening former Constable Joe Ferguson in late 2021 at a South Tucson bar, and Camacho alleged that Ferguson was harrassing him.
Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.