La Plata elections director wins county clerks’ award

With county clerks standing behind her, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker reads her letter nominating her elections director, Erin Hutchins, for an award from the Colorado County Clerks Association. (SOS photo)

The Colorado County Clerks Association today honored an elections administrator known to greet challenging tasks with an “OK boss, we’ve got this” mantra.

Erin Hutchins was nominated for the Michelle Burton Excellence in Elections Service Award by her boss, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker.

“Erin’s passion for elections is profound. She loves the challenge and is always willing to take on more,” Parker wrote in her nominating letter to Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, president of the clerks association.

Erin Hutchins.

The award honors “those who demonstrate love and extra devotion to the election process.” The other finalists were from Weld and Larimer counties.

“This year we are implementing a new recording system, election system and redistricting,” Parker wrote. “Erin is involved with all of these projects. She never complains about working additional hours or skipping lunch. She will say, ‘OK boss, we’ve got this!'”

The presentation was made at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s summer conference in Snowmass Village, which ends Wednesday.

An emotional Parker accepted the award for Hutchins, who was too busy to attend the conference.

Michelle Burton began her elections career in 1976 in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office and ended it as an Arapahoe County elections deputy. She and her husband Wayne died in a car accident in 2000 as they were traveling to Utah to watch their 14-year-old son play in a soccer tournament. The Grandview High student was not in the car, which collided with a deer.

Gunnison County Clerk Kathy Simillion and Chief Deputy Clerk Diane Folowell in 2016. (SOS photo)
Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers and her elections manager, Doreen Bellfy, at last year’s conference.

Also nominated for the award were:

From Gunnison County,
Chief Deputy Clerk and elections manager Diane Folowell, nominated by Clerk Kathy Simillion

Folowell was basically “flying solo” in the 2014 election, Simillion stated in her nominating letter. “This was a very difficult election with a sheriff’s race that was off of the charts hot, worn-out voting equipment, and everything that could possibly go on the ballot was on — including pot!”

Simillion was elected clerk that year and, in her words, took over an office that wasn’t happy with change. “I dove in with Diane at my side and never
looked back,” the clerk said.

From Larimer County, Doreen Bellfy, nominated by Clerk Angela Myers

Bellfy’s co-workers call her “our rock” and talk about her “quiet excellence and unmatched grace.”‘

“This is a woman for whom elections has been her professional passion,” Myers wrote. “her expertise and perspective are valued and respected among her peers. She often identifies the dangerous needle in the election haystack to the benefit of all. This is a woman of integrity, plain and simple.”

From Weld County, elections manager Adam Luke Gonzales, nominated by Clerk Carly Koppes
“He started in elections in 2004,” Koppes wrote in her nominating letter.

Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes and the employee she nominated, Adam Luke Gonzales. (SOS photo)

“That year was a presidential election and Adam was able to rise to the occasion. His love for elections caught fire and there was no turning back. He continues to strive to run more efficient elections with a calm demeanor, and is well respected by his staff and election judges.

As for Hutchins, the La Plata County clerk and recorder also cited her work on a mega-elections bill in the 2013 session, even taking leave and going to Denver on her own dime to be with Parker when she testified before lawmakers.

“We battled a snowstorm and had an extra night in Denver and she never complained,” Parker wrote. “She was so excited to be part of election history and she appreciated the experience so much. It is rare to find an employee that is so dedicated.”