Transparency out the window in selecting new Director for the Mesa County Public Health Department

For Mesa County residents trying to find out how the search is going for a new County Public Health Department (MCPHD) director, the County is acting like it’s really none of your business, unless you belong to their secret circle of private citizens and friends to whom they are giving private access and input into the decision.

Janet Rowland, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, told people when she was running for office that transparency in government is “absolutely critical,” but the search for a new MCPHD director has been anything but transparent.


The commissioners never made public the list of people who applied for the job, or their qualifications. The process of selecting the finalists was likewise private. The commissioners announced two finalists for the job on October 16 without having sought public input. One of the finalists, Deputy County Administrator Todd Hollenbeck, who is most likely the commissioners’ secret, pre-selected choice for the position, has exactly zero experience in public health, environmental or community health, epidemiology, public health policy, emergency management or medicine in any form, but after working for the County for over 20 years, Hollenbeck knows what side his bread is buttered on and exactly how to appease the commissioners, a necessary requirement for any new MCPHD director after the commissioners forced a new Intergovernmental Agreement into effect between the County and the Health Department that gives the commissioners total control over what Board of Public Health (BOPH) members can and cannot discuss at their meetings.


The other finalist is Xavier Crockett of Georgia. According to LinkedIn, he started his career by opening his own private health care consulting company, Crockett Consulting, in 2015 and working as an emergency medical technician. In 2017, he went into public health as an emergency management specialist with the Georgia Department of Public Health. In 2020, he became Emergency Preparedness Director for District 4 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, which covers 12 counties across west-central Georgia. He became Director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health in September, 2022. The focus of his current job is on emergency medical services, trauma and opioid and substance abuse prevention. Crockett has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and a Masters of Science degree in Crisis/Emergency/Disaster Management from Philadelphia University.

That background is more appropriate for a public health director, but Crockett has no experience in actually serving as director of an entire public health department.

Country Club Meetings

As if the process wasn’t opaque enough, on November 1, a Mesa County resident got the following email notice that two special meetings of the BOPH were scheduled to be held on short notice, on Nov. 2 and 3, at an unusual venue: the tony Bookcliff Country Club:

For County residents who might like to golf at the Bookcliff Country Club, there is an individual initiation fee of $6,000 for a golf membership, plus monthly dues of $500, a $150 quarterly food minimum and a monthly capital expense fee of $25

Curious, the county resident sent the following email to the County about the country club meetings:

Tara Leach of County Executive Administration wrote back,

“Executive sessions” are private meetings. The public is not allowed.

The county resident then asked,


Tara Leach wrote back:

County resident wrote back:

So back to square one.

The County resident then wrote (to me),


County residents are not allowed to know who is giving input into hiring a new MCPHD director


  6 comments for “Transparency out the window in selecting new Director for the Mesa County Public Health Department

  1. So the secret society of Rowlands hand picked Public Health Board is now meeting at an exclusive Country Club for deciding between two very unqualified candidates. Will she put the drink tab on the County and leave a fat tip? Oh what a hypocritical web we weave! And do not kid yourself she has or will chose the candidate that is the least qualified, her interim pick. Predictability is truly her forte. She intends to control all that the board says and does! The entire culture and morale of our public health agency will continue to deteriorate at a time when we really need qualified (educated) leadership, which she dismantled.

  2. This whole “process” of drumming out a good, high performing health director and picking a (probably ‘yes’) person to pretend to run the Health Department is an insult to every citizen here and most probably will downgrade public health responses to any challenge or crisis. The position has been turned into that of a political hack instead of a well qualified professional.

  3. Well they sure have been both stupidly and completely transparent in what a sham candidate search this was from the get-on. Two final selections with an appallingly low level of qualification and neither with any demonstrated proficiency in performing the duties associated with this position….therefore exposing the utter (false dilemma) fallacy of this whole effort.

    Hollenbeck is the yes-man shill with absolutely no relevant qualification or accredition to hold this position, and was merely placed in this position as a crony appointment to push papers around. Whereas Mr. Crockett draws marginal experience that is not remotely related and his education isn’t exactly a qualifier either…since that M.S. degree hails from a pay-to-play online program and the current PhD he is supposedly progressing towards comes from the same kind of sham program offered by a private university without absolutely no rigorous academic credential. Moreover, he represents the exact opposite of the diversity these dye-blond racists like Rowland and her country club ilk want for this position.

  4. Two things we know for sure:
    Neither candidate will require masks, social distancing or encourage vaccinations as Janet Rowland doesn’t believe in those precautions even though Covid is again on the rise.
    John Marshall will certainly be part of these proceedings as he also does not care about medical precautions either and there will be monies flowing from the Health Department to CMU once again .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *