Colorado’s 64 county clerks, “out there on the front lines”

Colorado Secretary Wayne Williams, third from left in the back row, and county clerks who attended a regional meeting this week in Cañon City. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told county clerks at a regional gathering this week that his office is reviewing how to implement voter-approved ballot measures, including one that changes signature gathering for ballot proposals.

Amendment 71 requires that any new constitutional amendment pass with 55 percent of the vote instead of a simple majority. In addition, a percentage of the signatures to put the measure on the ballot must be gathered in all 35 Senate districts, which will change how the state reviews petitions to determine whether backers collected enough valid voter signatures.

Williams addressed a variety of topics, from early-voting requirements to ballot drop boxes, when he spoke Wednesday to clerks from the state’s southern region at their conference in Cañon City.

“Our job is to help you and to help the voters,” Williams told the clerks. “You’re the ones out there on the front lines.”

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Wayne Williams’ rock-star reception

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks with elections judges working the Colorado Springs municipal election. To his left is Marguerite Terze. (SOS photo)

No one wonder Secretary of State Wayne Williams wanted to say “hi” to the folks working the upcoming Colorado Springs municipal election.

When Williams walked through the door of the room where the election judges were handling ballots, cries of “Hey, Wayne,” “Wayne!” and “Look who’s here!” greeted the Colorado Springs resident Wednesday.

Williams served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder for one term before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

Many of the local residents who work as election judges in county and state elections also volunteer to work in municipal elections, which is why there were so many familiar faces.

Judge Rich Schwarz also complimented Williams on the ease and transparency of the Secretary of State’s website and filing system. Schwarz  works with the bingo operation for the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale; the secretary of state oversees bingo.

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Secretary Williams visits Fremont County for clerks’ meeting

Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Fremont County’s chief deputy clerk, Dotty Gardunio, and Clerk Katie Barr. The Fremont County clerk’s office is hosting a regional clerks meeting. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited scenic, friendly Fremont County twice in two days as county clerks in the southern region are meeting in Cañon City.

Williams addressed the clerks Wednesday morning, answering questions, fielding compliments and talking about how new ballot measures voters passed in 2016 will impact their operations.

“Some of you are wondering will there be an issue on the ballot this November. Why might you care?” Williams asked, and then explained that if a statewide issue is on the ballot then counties get reimbursed from the state some of the costs of running an election.

One proposal going through the legislature would ask voters in November to decide on a sales tax increase to help fix Colorado’s roads. It is sponsored by Cañon City’s own Kevin Grantham, the Senate president and a Republican, and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat. The first committee hearing on their proposal, House Bill 1242, is being held today at the state capitol.

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From deputy clerk to deputy treasurer: Ryan Parsell’s new job

Ryan Parsell.

It looks like Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams might have a new carpool buddy: Today state Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced he hired Ryan Parsell to serve as his deputy treasurer.

Both Parsell and Williams live in Colorado Springs. The treasurer’s office is located at the state Capitol in  Denver, the secretary of state’s office is two blocks north, on Broadway.

The two will have plenty to talk about. Williams hired Parsell as his public information officer when he served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder. Williams’ successor in that job, Chuck Broerman, added deputy clerk duties to Parsell’s job.

Williams was thrilled with the appointment.

“Walker Stapleton’s selection of Ryan Parsell as his deputy treasurer demonstrates the quality of individuals who work for Colorado’s county clerks and recorders,” Williams said. “Coloradans trust our county clerks and I know Ryan will carry that trust forward.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams holds Gracelynn Parsell, the daughter of his former staffer Ryan Parsell, at a recent event in Colorado Springs. (FB photo)

Parsell was equally complimentary.

“Serving in the clerk’s office — especially with great clerks like Chuck Broerman and Wayne Williams — has taught me much and has prepared me for this role,” he said. “I appreciate all that they have taught me about good government, transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

Kudos to reporter Joey Bunch with Colorado Politics for this great gem when writing about Stapleton’s appointment of Parsell:

He doesn’t have to be sworn in, which is good, since the last guy swore himself out of a job.

Parsell replaces Jon Forbes, who turned in his resignation after cursing, including the f bomb, at the state PERA board last month.

I met Parsell in person in 2013 when covering the election to recall two seated Democratic state senators, John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo, over their votes on gun bills.  I couldn’t get over then how much Parsell looked like my former boss at The Denver Post, Curtis Hubbard.

I remember when Parsell was supposed to help Williams when the secretary and his wife, Holly, moved into a smaller home. Williams loved ribbing Parsell about the “excuse” he used to get out of the move: “My wife Christiana is in labor.”

Oh yeah, they’re going to have plenty to talk about.

How casual day for the Arapahoe County clerk’s office paid off

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, the third person holding the check, and his staffers present a check to the Wounded Warrior Project . (Arapahoe County photo)

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane put a new twist on casual day at his office.

Every Wednesday, Crane and his employees each pay $1 if they want to wear jeans. The clerk’s office began the jean fundraising project in 2013 with a $5,000 goal. The goal was exceeded in 2016, but with the presidential election taking over much of Crane’s time, the donation was postponed, allowing even more money being raised.

Last Friday, staffers presented a $7,172 check to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that, according to its  website, “Serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.”

“It was an honor to give back to the men and women in our Armed Forces who have fought and sacrificed for our life and liberty,” said Crane. “Employees loved this charitable opportunity. By paying a dollar to dress down, they enjoyed a comfortable workday and their small contributions over time added up to a significant donation for this deserving organization.”

Next up for Arapahoe County? To keep casual Wednesdays going to meet another $5,000 goal. This time, the charity will be Freedom Service Dogs, an organization that rescues, trains and places dogs with people with disabilities.

Julia Sunny is the social media coordinator for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.