BLACKFOOT — A new interim sheriff was appointed for Bingham County Monday afternoon.
During a public meeting, Bingham County commissioners appointed Chief Deputy Jeff Gardner.
The commissioners interviewed Gardner for more than 10 minutes, asking him why he was interested in law enforcement, the importance of staff and the sheriff’s office budget. His appointment was met with applause from everyone in attendance.
Gardner tells EastIdahoNews.com he’s humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of support he’s received over the last couple of weeks.
“That’s been a reassurance that I am doing the right thing that the community wants to see as a chief deputy and now to carry that same type of work ethic and work traditions as a sheriff and represent them,” Gardner says.
Gardner will officially be sworn in on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
It hasn’t been determined who will replace Gardner as chief deputy.
Gardner’s appointment comes weeks after former Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland’s resignation, which took effect on Aug. 1. Gardner will be the interim sheriff for a few months until the election in November.
The Bingham County Republican Central Committee has submitted his name for the November ballot. The committee interviewed Gardner previously. If elected, Gardner will finish the rest of Rowland’s term, which is two years.
The second candidate for the interim sheriff position, Stephen Woolf, was not in attendance on Monday. The three commissioners, Whitney Manwaring, Mark Bair and Jessica Lewis, were planning to interview him as well.
Gardner spoke highly of his opponent and went on to explain his priorities going forward to EastIdahoNews.com.
“No. 1 — to be the mantle of trust the citizens of this county … have given me. I will always keep it in the forefront. If a mistake is made, I am going to take ownership of it and act accordingly,” Gardner said.
The safety, security and welfare of his employees is another priority for Gardner, who he says are the backbone of the agency.
The sheriff’s office has been under a lot of scrutiny since Rowland was accused of pulling a gun on a church youth group last November. During the investigation, Gardner says, all the deputies and staff have been “resilient.”
He praises the “caliber of men and women that work here.”
“They have taken nasty phone calls, threats, that type of stuff but … they’ve all known what their responsibilities are and continued to move forward. Because of that, our morale has stayed very high, considering what we’ve gone through,” he says.