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Travis Anderson hired as new Montezuma County administrator

Travis Anderson, the newly hired Montezuma County administrator, responds to a question from the audience during a meet-and-greet event. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Former Sheriff’s Office detective has degree in public administration

Montezuma County has a new county administrator.

Travis Anderson, a former Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office investigator, was hired by Board of County Commissioners to fill the position. His annual salary will be $103,000.

“He has master’s degrees in public administration and good management experience,” said Commissioner Kent Lindsay. “Being the county administrator is a complex job. During the all-day testing and assessments of candidates, Travis rose to the top, handling all the different scenarios we threw at him.”

He will replace Shak Powers, who now works as a project manager with the Cortez office of the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado Inc.

Anderson introduced himself at a recent meet-and-greet, took questions from the audience and met with news reporters.

He was raised in his birthplace of Delta by a war veteran father who owned an auto body shop and a mother who worked in the county clerk’s office. He is married and has four grown kids and seven step-children.

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Anderson had a 31-year career in law enforcement. He has a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement administration and masters in organizational management and public administration from Ashford University in Chandler, Arizona.

He worked for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office from 2009 to 2016, and from 2019 to the present. During his tenure, he served as a deputy, patrol sergeant, SWAT team leader, staff sergeant and detective. He was the chief of the Brush Police Department from 2016-2018, was an officer for the Delta Police Department from 1995-2008 and in the Nederland Marshal’s Office from 1992-1995.

Anderson has seen firsthand the problems of the opioid epidemic, and won an award for saving a man who overdosed on heroin.

“Opioids are having a major impact on our community and is something we need to address,” Anderson said.

His leadership style is to work as a team with county staff.

“Nobody accomplishes anything by themselves. We all have mentors. My goal is show staff they are valued and part of the team, and that together we can be successful,” he said. “I believe in quality management that allows us to learn and move forward, ensuring services we provide to the community meet the expectations of the community.”

He does not believing in the status quo, “This is how it was always done.”

“That mindset is static, and not progressive movement. By inspiring positive change, we energize the team to innovate,” Anderson said.

“My ultimate goal with this position is to work with the commissioners, the citizens, community leaders and municipalities to address progressive growth,” he said. “Examples are addressing housing needs, infrastructure and working toward a balanced budget. I want to look at where we are spending money and see if we are duplicating efforts anywhere.”

A citizen asked how he will transfer his experience in law enforcement to government administration.

Anderson responded that both jobs are about working with people to solve problems.

“I have people skills, and that has been part of my career for 31 years,” he said.

On the economy, Anderson said there are many fronts to address. Affordable housing is needed for workers and to attract employees to move here. Broadband internet service is needed to attract larger companies. Infrastructure, such as an industrial park, would set the stage for more businesses to move here.

Anderson wants to persuade a manufactured-housing factory to locate in the county. He said the county’s central location to areas that need affordable housing that business creates makes it an ideal location.

Homes constructed on an assembly line are more affordable, he said, and are in demand in Montezuma County, La Plata County, Ute Mountain Ute reservation and on the Navajo Reservation.

Another plan for Anderson is to promote passage of a county sales tax, which the county has said is needed to offset falling revenues from the oil and gas industry. The county is considering one for a 2023 election.

“I think if we put together a fair proposal and market it right, we will get support,” he said.

Identifying what the tax would be used for is essential for it to be supported by the public. The way the Montezuma County Hospital District passed its tax measure recently, by also reducing property taxes, was a good strategy, Anderson said.

Other important issues are to improve the aesthetics of the county, particularly south of Cortez, which has seen deterioration and graffiti, and is the gateway to Cortez.

‘When a window is broken, get it fixed, or the problems will get worse,” Anderson said.

The water shortage and drought also are on his mind.

“We need to maintain our water rights here, and see what we can do to make what water is available go further,” he said.

Anderson said he would comply with Colorado’s open meeting laws and open records law.