Two former Metropolitan Police Department officials have signaled their intentions to run for Clark County sheriff. Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor, told the Review-Journal on Thursday that Kevin McMahill, a former Metro undersheriff, will be running to replace him as he runs for governor.
“I believe he would do a fantastic job if elected sheriff,” Lombardo said of McMahill, while stopping short of a formal endorsement.
McMahill worked at Metro for nearly 28 years after a stint in the U.S. Army and two years with Denver police. He told the Review-Journal when he retired in December that he prioritized community relationships in his time at the department and was proud of his work to improve ties between the department and the diverse communities it serves.
McMahill said in a statement Thursday that he plans to formally announce his candidacy next week.
“I am looking forward to this campaign and working diligently to get the message out about the faith I have in the men and women of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,” McMahill said. “I worked tirelessly the last 6 years as undersheriff and I will work even harder if elected as sheriff to keep our community safe. It means a lot to have Sheriff Lombardo’s vote of confidence.”
Lombardo said he wanted to see if anyone else is entering the race before making an endorsement.
“I want to make sure that the people intending to do it are going to do it before I weigh in on the process,” he said.
One competitor to McMahill emerged on Thursday when state Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, told the Review-Journal on Thursday that he is throwing his hat in the sheriff race as well, and he believes he’s a better candidate than McMahill.
“I’ve got a track record for getting things done and working collaboratively with others,” Roberts said. “Not that Kevin doesn’t, but I think I have a strong track record now and I would continue to do that and I think the department could thrive under that kind of collaborative and open leadership.”
Roberts joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 18 and said he served for nine and a half years before joining Metro in 1993. He served in many roles before retiring in January 2018 as an assistant sheriff. In November 2018, he was elected to represent District 13, which he has called home for 20 years, in the Nevada Assembly.
“I left because I had an appetite for the state Legislature because of my past involvement, but when I got up there, I realized that I missed law enforcement,” he said of his decision to run for sheriff. “I miss leading people. I miss leading organizations, and I think my background in policing and now the Legislature would give me a unique perspective to lead Metro.”
Roberts said he and McMahill worked together at Metro, but have not spoken about the race. He said he thinks McMahill is qualified to run the department but added that the two have different leadership styles.
“Metro isn’t broken,” Roberts said. “It’s a great organization, and we’ve come a long way from when I hired on and I think we’ve done a great job. But I think we can always do better, and I think it takes community partnerships and collaboration at all levels to take it to the next level. And I’ve got a proven track record of doing that and getting things done.”
Lombardo will serve as sheriff until December and said he plans to spend the remainder of his time focusing on reducing homicide numbers and recruiting more officers to the department.
Contact Alexis Ford at email@example.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Katelyn Newberg contributed to this report.