By Keara Brosnan
Saturday was a Wayne Williams kind of day.
In the morning, the Colorado secretary of state attended the Leadership Program of the Rockies’ annual retreat in Colorado Springs where he met a Medal of Honor recipient. That evening, he delivered the keynote address at the Otero County Lincoln Day Dinner in La Junta.
Williams’ next local speaking engagement is Tuesday when he will address the DTC Kiwanis Club. The breakfast at Mimi’s in Lone Tree begins at 7 a.m.
Williams thanked Otero County Republicans for helping him win the secretary of state’s race in 2014. He received 54 percent of the vote in Otero County compared to Democrat Joe Neguse’s 33 percent. Statewide, Williams beat Neguse by 2.2 percentage points.
“I have fought for our right to vote in the legislature and on the ground level. I care deeply about our right to vote and protecting the integrity of our election processes,” he said. “That’s why I chose to run for Colorado secretary of state.”
While in La Junta, Williams visited with a member of the Elks Lodge.
“Charitable gaming is overseen by the Secretary of State and he told me that he so appreciates our office and the work that we do,” Williams said. “He said that unlike many agencies, we work with our customers, help them succeed and help them comply with the law. That’s how government ought to be.”
Williams outlined at the dinner the efforts underway in his office to improve elections and business in Colorado.
“It’s amazing to hear what Wayne Williams is doing on behalf of Colorado,” said Jace Ratzlaff, a Pueblo Republican who attended with his wife, Rep. Clarice Navarro. “He is on the cutting edge of all things business and voter related. Wayne gets it, he believes in it and he fights for it.”
“President Lincoln taught several great truths in his 269-word address. First, liberty and freedom exist in this world because good people have been and continue to be willing to sacrifice,” Williams said. “And this purpose of America — to secure liberty and equality — is a second truth from Lincoln’s address.
“We can summit the mountain. We can win these elections. We can put America back on track and restore economic prosperity and freedom. But we will all have to work together to win the presidency and the other vital races.”
That, Williams said, includes re-election efforts by state Rep. Navarro and state Sen. Larry Crowder.
“Local Republicans inspired, informed, entertained,” read the headline in the La Junta Democrat Wednesday.
At the LPR retreat, Williams and his wife Holly met Salvatore Augustine “Sal” Giunta, the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. Guinta is credited with saving the lives of members of his squad in Afghanistan in 2007.
“Staff Sgt. Giunta’s heroism truly exemplifies the principles and sacrifice that make this nation great,” Williams said. “He is a true American hero.”
President Obama in 2010 presented the award to Giunta. He pointed out he had presented three other Medal of Honor awards during his term, but to the families of the slain recipients.
“Today, therefore, marks the first time in nearly 40 years that the recipient of the Medal of Honor for an ongoing conflict has been able to come to the White House and accept this recognition in person,” Obama said in his remarks. “It is my privilege to present our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to a soldier as humble as he is heroic: Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta.”
The Leadership Program of the Rockies bills itself as an organization that “teaches and fine tunes” the leadership skills necessary to impact public policy and trains participants in America’s founding principles.
“Kennedy’s fresh perspectives and humor was the perfect end to the retreat,” Williams said. “She had people almost falling off their chairs with laughter.”
Among the awards LPR handed out: its Legacy Award to former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, whose political career in Colorado began in the 1970s and who is known for his “ethics and integrity.” It gave its Leaders in Actions Award to Lone Tree City Councilwoman Kim Monson, a 2012 LPR graduate credited for her “thoughtful dialogues” on public policy topics.
“With national media personalities, thought leaders and our nation’s first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam, this year’s program was phenomenal,” Williams said. “Year after year this Colorado non-profit provides an inspiration and information retreat with emphasis on our constitutional principles.”
Keara Brosnan is a University of Denver student interning with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.