“Nobody has done more for Colorado than Henry Sobanet. There should be streets, buildings, and airports named after him. Henry stands as the antithesis of everything politics has sadly become. Though he stood at the helm of our budget, he cared not for money, but for making Colorado a better place.”
The year was 2005 and I was assigned to cover the complicated ballot measures Ref C & D, dealing with taxes and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
I called the governor’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, all hours of the day and night. “Is this correct? What if that happens? Does this mean this?”
These days I’m answering phone calls from reporters.
At closing time recently I posted a Tweet about the ballot rejection rates from unaffiliated voters in two counties. Reporters immediately asked if I had more numbers. “I don’t,” I said, “but I can call around to the clerks and get some.”
“You would do that on a Friday afternoon?” Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio asked.
Yes, because that’s my job.
Sobanet always answered his cell phone. I once had a a fairly lengthy budget conversation with him one Friday night before he finally admitted he was at a party and talking to me from inside someone’s bedroom.
Today is Sobanet’s last day at the state Capitol after serving the state and two governors for 20 years.
During dinner Thursday with journalists Mike Littwin and Tina Griego, Littwin mentioned social media’s response to Sobanet’s departure. He said he couldn’t remember another government official who was so well respected on both sides of the aisles and from all walks of life.
Facebook user Andrew Freedman summed it up perfectly:
“Nobody has done more for Colorado than Henry Sobanet. There should be streets, buildings, and airports named after him. Henry stands as the antithesis of everything politics has sadly become. Though he stood at the helm of our budget, he cared not for money, but for making Colorado a better place. Thank you for all you have done, friend.”
Personally I loved the Facebook exchange between CPR’s Vic Vela and Peter Marcus, formerly of The Durango Herald and now spokesman for a marijuana outlet.
“Henry, you were everything a reporter could ask for: accessible, friendly, helpful. Thank you, sir! And sorry about all the 27 questions Peter always asked,” Vela wrote.
“I’m sorry that the answers I sought were more complicated than needed for a 30-second radio spot,” Marcus zinged back.
Sobanet acknowledged the goodwill on his own Facebook page on June 18.
“I wish I could express via spreadsheet how thankful I am for all the great messages on my next steps professionally. It would be the best spreadsheet ever. It would use all the cool fonts and everyone would get it!” he said. “It has been an honor to do the work I have done and could not take any credit without acknowledging the amazing people I work with now and over the years…I am going to miss my teammates and I am looking forward to the next adventure.
“Facebook should be like this all the time! THANK YOU!”
Sobanet begins working for Colorado State University on Aug. 1, a move that inspired a ton of comments about how lucky CSU is.