Colorado’s “messy” caucus, marijuana intrigues Middle Eastern visitors

Video: A visit to Colorado.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.

Twelve international visitors on Wednesday peppered Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams about everything from marijuana to the “messy” precinct caucuses they observed the night before.

Back in their Middle Eastern countries, they are professors, bureaucrats, candidates and such. They hailed from a variety of countries, including Algeria, Kuwait and Tunisia. Some asked Williams questions in English; others relied on three three Arabic language interpreters.

The visitors were part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, which is under the U.S. Department of State. They also visited the state Capitol.

Palestinian Majed Bamya, who works for the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that he and has colleagues watched Coloradans caucus Tuesday night.

“It was quite messy,” he told Williams, sharing the the same assessment of many Colorado voters who participated.

“Are you implicated in this messiness?”

International visitors talked to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday.
International visitors talked to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday.

The secretary explained that caucuses are run by the parties, but that his office handled dozens of calls from voters wanting to know where to attend their precinct caucus.

Tunisian Ahmed Missaoui, a project director of the Local Governance, Aljil Association, wanted to know how someone who is affiliated with a particular party could fairly run elections.

Williams, a Republican, pointed out that when he ran for secretary of state he was endorsed by the two Democratic mayors in El Paso County and that Democratic county commissioners in the San Luis Valley asked him to run the recall election involving their clerk and recorder. He also introduced his elections director, Judd Choate, and pointed out that Choate is a Democrat.

Israeli Waseem Hosary, the spokesman for a political coalition, wanted to know about the legalization of marijuana, which Colorado voters approved in 2012.

“I didn’t vote for it,” Williams said. “I think there are challenges.”

But he pointed out it is the law and it’s his job to follow the law. Williams explained that when he was the El Paso County clerk and recorder his office issued liquor licenses even though because of his faith he doesn’t drink.

That’s when Williams got asked a question he has never heard before in his 53 years.

“Are you Muslim?” Bamya wanted to know.

Williams let out a big smile. He explained he is member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.