Pueblo: home of heroes and a harmonious legislative delegation

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and state representatives Daneya Esgar and Clarice Navarro of Pueblo show off the salsa they received for talking to the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Pueblo class Thursday at the University Club in Denver. (Secretary of State)

Pueblo’s up-and-coming leaders met with their lawmakers and other elected officials, including Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, during a visit to the state Capitol on Thursday.

The visitors are part of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Pueblo 2016 class that began in January with a two-day retreat in Trinidad and ends in May.

Lobbyist Patrick Boyle addressed the Leadership Pueblo class about the role of lobbyists at theCapitol. At a lunch at the University Club, he said the Pueblo delegation is unique among the lawmakers because despite partisan differences the focus has always been on helping folks in their southern Colorado community.

Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, echoed that sentiment. “I have colleagues jealous of the work we do together,” she said.

Velia Rincon and Cherie Sather are part of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Pueblo 2016 class.
Velia Rincon and Cherie Sather are part of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Pueblo 2016 class.

She also pointed out that she is a graduate of Pueblo Leadership’s 2010 class.  “This program is really invaluable,” she said.

Other lawmakers who attended were Republican Rep. Clarice Navarro and Democratic Sen. Leroy Garcia, both of Pueblo, and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, who represents Pueblo County outside the city.

Williams and state Treasurer Walker Stapleton also addressed Leadership Pueblo.

Williams, who lives in Colorado Springs, got a laugh from the crowd when he said he’s actually one of the state’s elected officials who lives outside of C-470 and has traveled south of Monument. When he worked as an attorney, he said he visited Pueblo on behalf of his clients.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Pueblo police Chief Luis Velez, who used to be chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Pueblo police Chief Luis Velez, who used to be chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Williams touted the successes in his  office, which last week found out it again is a finalist for a top award from the National Association of Secretaries of State. Also, voter registration, business renewals and a variety of other functions overseen by the office can be done online.

“We really try to make things easier for people to do. We try to innovate in Colorado,” he said. “If your house got hailed on and a roofer comes by and you’ve never seen this person before you can go on our website and find out whether they’re actually a legitimate business in Colorado.”

Williams noted that several participants he met in the Leadership Pueblo class were involved in nonprofits.

“Most of the time when someone gets asked to serve on a board they don’t really know what’s involved in the process,” he said. “We have board-of-directors training for nonprofits totally free on our website.”

Williams, the former El Paso County clerk and recorder, also addressed one of his passions: ensuring the ease of voting for military and overseas voters.

Pueblo Sen. Leroy Garcia and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce Leadership Pueblo lunch Thursday in Denver.
Pueblo Sen. Leroy Garcia and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce Leadership Pueblo lunch Thursday in Denver.

“When (Pueblo County Clerk) Bo Ortiz mails you your ballot you’re probably going to get that within a few days. But if you’re in Afghanistan, you’re not going to get it the next day and you’re certainly not going to get it back to Pueblo in time for your vote to count,” Williams said.

He noted state law extended the time period for those ballots to be mailed and returned but municipalities did not. He thanked Sen. Garcia for his leadership on rectifying that situation with a bill passed last year.

Leadership Pueblo is designed to assist up-and-coming leaders and decision-makers in the community  better grasp the issues facing the community, according to its website. Sessions include Pueblo’s past, present and future, state and local government, education, health and human services, Pueblo’s resources, the arts and the media.