Talking to Costilla County, then & now

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Costilla County Clerk Karen Garcia, left, and her staffers Najondine Placek and Miranda Esquibel. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Costilla County Clerk Karen Garcia, left, and her staffers Najondine Placek and Miranda Esquibel during a visit one year ago. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)

By Lynn Bartels and Eddie Morgan

Costilla County Clerk and Recorder Karen Garcia had never had a secretary of state visit her office — until Wayne Williams dropped by one year ago.

Williams visited three other county clerks that September day as part of his effort to check in on the elected officials, view their election set up and see if there is any way his office can help. The office published blogs about the other clerk visits, but wasn’t able to get a hold of Costilla County to check some details.

Fast forward to Wednesday when Williams visited Salida, where clerks from the southern region were holding training. Williams met two staffers from Costilla County. Costilla County? We wrote a blog about you, but couldn’t publish it because we had check out some final details.

“We kept looking for it,” staffer Miranda Esquibel said.

“No one answered any phone number we called,” she was informed, only to be told the number changed but the old one continued to ring, making people think it was still in service.

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Secretary Williams talks about primary elections, voter fraud and more

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams mingles with members of the League of Women Voters Denver before speaking to the group Monday night. (SOS photo)

Most Colorado counties are holding elections this November, but to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ dismay the turnout won’t be anything like last year’s presidential election, when 2.9 million Coloradans participated.

“Off-year elections” usually involve school board races and tax issues for local districts. Some cities are holding council elections.

“These are issues that can directly affect your property values,” Williams said. “Given how much is at stake, I think it’s absurd that people aren’t going to vote in the upcoming election.”

Williams also disputed claims of massive voter fraud.

“I’ve seen no evidence of millions of people voting illegally,” he told the League of Women Voters. “We have found instances of people voting in Colorado and other states at the same time, and we are investigating that.”

It was the secretary’s third talk on election issues in 10 days.

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Happy 70th, U.S. Air Force

Senior airman Justine Sunny during an incentive flight, which is awarded to airmen that excel in all aspects of Air Force life.

“The world’s greatest air force” turns 70 today. On Sept. 18, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act, which established the U.S. Air Force.

Full disclosure: The Air Force is near and dear to my heart. My younger sister, Justine, is an airman serving at Kadena Air base in Okinawa, Japan. More on that later.

Wayne Williams, then chairman of the Colorado Springs Housing Authority, Brig. Gen. Mike Drennan, Dick Sullivan, the Housing Authority executive director and Col. Jack Perroni on the July/August 2000 cover of Defense Communities magazine.

My boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, helped those stationed at Peterson Air Force base obtain affordable housing when he served as chairman of the board for the Housing Authority in Colorado Springs in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Williams, who practiced law at the time, worked with the board on a development where monthly rent would equal the enlisted members’ housing allowances. At the time, there was a housing shortage for those assigned to Peterson.

The Air Force has a huge presence in Colorado. The Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs. There are four air bases in Colorado: Buckley, Cheyenne Mountain, Schriever and Peterson.

Justine and me.

And then of course, there was Lowry. During World War II, Lowry became so critical in providing trained personnel to the U.S. military that the base population reached 20,000 and operated in three shifts, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, according to a Lowry website.

During a ceremony Friday honoring the Air Force as it approached its 70th birthday, President Trump praised the organization as he addressed the military at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

The president said he was “honored to join you on this really, really historic occasion, the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force. The greatest air force on the face of this Earth. By far.”

As for my sister, Justine enlisted her senior year at Lakewood High School, Class of 2015,  and went off to basic training just a few months after graduation.

She works in armament, so basically she loads missiles on to fighter jets.  She is a little over two years in to her six-year contract, I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Check out the video of some of the SOS staff and their experience in the Air Force.

Rio Blanco: remote and Republican

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Rio Blanco County Clerk Boots Campbell at the county offices in Meeker. (SOS photo)

You can’t blame Rio Blanco County Clerk and Recorder Boots Campbell and her staff for being excited about their digs in the newly remodeled courthouse. No longer does brown water seep down the walls or ceilings because the prisoners in the jail above decide to flood their toilets.

“It was pretty disgusting,” she said.

The old courthouse, which originally was completed in 1936, was gutted and refinished. The clerk’s office began moving back in around April. Meanwhile, the jail and the courtrooms moved into the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center.

Campbell — whose name is “Boots” on her voter registration record and driver’s license — gave Secretary of State Wayne Williams a tour of the courthouse when he visited her office Friday in Meeker. The county’s stunning logo, featuring an oil derrick and an elk, adorns the walls and the county commissioner’s room.

In Campbell’s office, she still has some of the wooden antique juror chairs from the olden days in the courthouse, as well as a wooden desk she refused to part with.

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Seeing double in Moffat County

Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod laughs about the sign outside her office in Craig. Don’t believe it — she’s much beloved by her staff. (SOS photo)

Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod admits she has a slight case of senioritis — she’s term limited after 2018, which means she’ll be leaving the office where she has worked since she was 25.

But Herod knows she really doesn’t have time accommodate that senioritis. She has two big elections to oversee, starting with the Nov. 6 election. And she’s doing it without the help of deputy county clerk Tori Pingley, who delivered twins on Aug. 23. Scarlett Jane and Colt Wesley join a big sister, Arlea Jean, who just turned 4. Pingley is on maternity leave.

Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, left, and her deputy clerk, Amanda Tomlinson, with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

“You’re really going to let her be gone through the November election?” Secretary of State Wayne Williams jokingly asked Herod when he visited the clerk’s office in Craig on Friday.

“Do I really have a choice? I’m lucky she didn’t take double maternity leave since she had twins,” Herod said with a laugh.

By the way, they’re warning folks about the water at the Moffat County Courthouse. That’s because a staffer for Routt County Treasurer Linda Peters also recently delivered twins.

Herod said the ballot for the Nov. 7 election will be full although there is no statewide measure. The junior college and the water conservancy district have mill-levy questions, the school district has board races and the town of Dinosaur has a marijuana issue on the ballot.

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