With recall possibility looming, no rest in Sedgwick County after Nov. 8

Sedgwick County Clerk Chris Beckman and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams inside her elections office in Julesburg. (SOS photo)
Sedgwick County Clerk Chris Beckman and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams inside the elections office in Julesburg. (SOS photo)

Sedgwick County’s clerk and recorder is Chris Beckman. One of its three commissioners is Jim Beck. Naturally, there’s some good-natured ribbing about their names.

“I call him Jim Beckman,” the clerk said, with a laugh.

The two traded faux barbs Friday in her office at the Sedgwick County courthouse in Julesburg, but the commissioner conceded, “The last month, they’ve been working their tails off.”

That’s the story throughout the state as Colorado’s 64 clerk and recorders and their staffs prepare for the Nov. 8 election.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams met with Beckman and Friday to see her election set-up and ask if she needed anything from his office. In addition to elections, motor vehicle registrations, recordings and such, the Sedgwick clerk handles payroll and finances for the county.

The latest population figures for Sedgwick County, in northeastern most Colorado, show 2,360 people and three towns: Julesburg, Ovid and Sedgwick. Beckman’s been the county clerk for six years.

“I do love a lot of things about my job,” she said. “I love going to work. I love my employees.”

Before becoming clerk, Beckman delivered The Denver Post and worked for years as a waitress. That’s where she learned a little something about customer service.

Beckman told Williams that the day before his visit her office signed off on petition language for a group that wants to recall the sheriff, Tom Hanna, who was arrested last month and accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled inmate. Beckman also is handling the audit of his expenses.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Sedgwick County's ballot drop box. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Sedgwick County’s ballot drop box. (SOS photo)

The previous sheriff, Randy Peck, survived an attempt to recall him in 2011 but lost the 2012 sheriff’s race to Hanna.

Williams knows something about recall elections. When he was El Paso County clerk and recorder, he oversaw a recall attempt of a state lawmaker over his gun votes, presided over several school board recall elections and ran a special recall election in Sagauche County.

Beckman said if the group gathers enough valid voter signatures to try to recall Hanna, a special election must be held. It’s too late to include the matter on the general election ballot. Having to pay for two back-to-back elections is a worry for a cash-strapped county, which has seen businesses leave town. That’s why Beckman’s husband now drives to Sydney, Neb., for work. The couple has six daughters, ages 34 to 22. Everyone asks her if they kept trying for a boy, but Beckman said she just liked the idea of a big family.

“Julesburg was a great place to raise six daughters, that’s for sure,” she said. “There are a lot of benefits to a small town.”