Otero County elections veteran welcomes secretary of state

Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in the clerk's vault in La Junta. (SOS photo)
Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in the clerk’s vault in La Junta. (SOS photo)

Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy used to love handling elections, so much so that her fellow county clerks would shake their heads.

“I just wanted to thump her,” neighboring Crowley County Clerk Lucile Nichols recalled.

But that was before the highly contested 2000 presidential election and the sweeping reforms — and seemingly endless mandates — that followed when Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. Since then, Sisnroy admitted, her  passion for elections has waned.

“Everything got really hard after that,” she told Secretary of State Wayne Williams when he visited La Junta Wednesday.

Wayne Williams' visit was on the calendar.
Wayne Williams’ visit was on the calendar.

Outside her office, Broncos signs adorned the walls. Inside, was a calendar with the secretary’s visit circled.

Sisnroy and Williams chatted about a variety of topics — grandchildren, ballot drop-off boxes and the world of elections.

Sisnroy has seen plenty during her 41 years in the clerk’s office, including 22 as chief deputy and 18 as the elected clerk and recorder. The 62-year-old plans to retire when her term ends after 2018.

“I’m ‘B.C’ — before computers,” she said, with a laugh. “We used to hand type all the registrations.”

Otero County includes six school districts, and the towns of La Junta, Cheraw, Fowler, Manzanola, Rocky Ford and Swink, where Sisnroy lives. This fall she could be handling recall elections for members of the Rocky Ford City Council and a member of the Swink school board.

Sisnroy also introduced Williams to the Otero County Board of Commissioners: Jim Baldwin, Kevin Karney and Keith Goodwin. The trio asked Williams about Dominion Voting System, which Williams selected last year to serve as the state’s election vendor. He explained that counties that switch to Dominion by 2017 will get financial help with training and installation costs.

Williams said he knew where they were coming from with concerns about costs. He used to be an El Paso County commissioner and he understands the tug from various priorities, including transportation and human services. But he also served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder before becoming secretary of state so is sympathetic to clerks’ needs.

“I have told the commissioners the equipment we have is outdated,” Sisnroy said.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Otero County Commissioners Jim Baldwin, Kevin Karney and Keith Goodwin Wednesday about new voting equipment. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Otero County Commissioners Jim Baldwin, Kevin Karney and Keith Goodwin Wednesday about new voting equipment. (SOS photo)