Club 20 unexpectedly welcomes Wayne Williams

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at Club 20 on Friday in Grand Junction. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams wasn’t scheduled to appear at Club 20’s meeting this weekend, but he apparently crashed the executive board’s session at just the right time.

The influential Western Slope organization on Friday debated the rules to follow when it hosts next year’s September debate for governor, the 3rd Congressional District and other candidates in the region. In the past, third-party candidates have been upset at being shut out; others have been unhappy that third-partiers have been included.

Williams, who had just popped in to say “Hi,” was invited to sit down and answer some questions. He said he believes there are better factors to use for determining debate participation than voter registration, including polling results.

Williams served two terms as an El Paso County commissioner so has a county commissioner so he knows plenty of Club 20 members. One of the first ones he ran into at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction was Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, who is serving his sixth term. Club 20 in 2013 presented the prestigious Dan Noble Award to Martin for his “outstanding service to western Colorado.”

Harry Peroulis, Emily Tracy and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talk in the hallway outside the Club 20 meeting. Peroulis said he’s excited for energy exploration with Donald Trump in the White House. Tracy, a Democrat, said she’s not sure if she’s going to run again for the legislature.

The winner of this year’s Dan Noble award was Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, who serves on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. Rankin’s wife, Joyce, is a member of the state Board of Education from the 3rd Congressional District.

As for the debates, last year Club 20 had to add Libertarian Lily Tang Williams (no relation to Wayne Williams) to the U.S. Senate debate in the 11th hour when the latest voter registration numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State were released. (Williams took some friendly teasing from Club 20 board members for not withholding the data.)

The numbers revealed the Libertarian Party had gained just enough new members to meet the threshold of having 1 percent of voters in the district where the candidate is running, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel. The story also points out other candidates who have been denied the right or allowed to participate in the debates.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton at the Grand Junction Airport Thursday night. (SOS photo)

Club 20 traditionally hosts the first major debates after Labor Day weekend. They were incredibly important when the primary election was held in August. Now the primary is the last Tuesday in June, and other debates often are scheduled before Club 20. Still, the Grand Junction event attracts the candidates, the press — and the trackers.

One of the debates is always for the 3rd Congressional District, now represented by Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez. He spoke to Club 20 today. (He and Wayne Williams were on the same plane into Grand Junction Thursday night; the secretary was returning from a technology conference in Arkansas).

Williams on Friday helped kick off the office’s Go Code Colorado challenge in Grand Junction. The challenge asks entrepreneurs and software developers to use public data to create business insights. At stake are three contracts with the state worth $25,000 each.