Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams received plenty of praise during his final appearances before two legislative committees, where he highlighted the office’s achievements and challenges.
The El Paso County Republican presented his budget requests to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee Friday morning, and later in the afternoon he discussed performance plans, regulatory and legislative agendas, and budget requests as part of the SMART Act hearing.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with you and your office on a variety of issues over the years,” Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and the chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, told Williams.
“I have to say, you’ve run a tip-top operation.”
Lawmakers on the the Joint State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee were equally complimentary later that day.
“I just want to thank you for your years of service to Colorado and the excellent job you’ve done as our secretary of state and how hard I know you’ve worked to be bipartisan as much as you can be,” said Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver.
“That takes a lot to do the kind of work you’ve done and to try to work as hard as you have across the aisle and I absolutely appreciate it, so thank you.”
The JBC is charged with studying the fiscal needs of agencies of Colorado state government. Throughout the year, the three senators and three representatives help prepare budget recommendations for the General Assembly. The Secretary of State’s office is cash funded by business fees, which are among the lowest in the nation.
Williams went over the office’s recent successes, including the UChoose campaign, which was an awareness campaign to keep unaffiliated voters from spoiling the ballot.
This year was the first time unaffiliated voters could participate in a primary without declaring party affiliation, but they could only choose a Republican or a Democratic ballot. If they voted both, their ballots didn’t count.
“It was very successful both in terms of earned media and direct targeting of voters. We kept the spoilage rate under 2.4 percent,” he said. “There is still more to do but the fact that we kept it down to a third of the projected blue book level is significant and a direct result of the campaign.”
The Secretary of State’s IT Division is a crucial element to the success of the office’s Elections and Business and Licensing divisions, Williams said.
Rep. Bob Rankin agreed. “Your department has been a leader in using technology,” the Carbondale Republican said.
The Washington Post earlier this year declared Colorado the “safest state to cast a vote.”
Williams also read an e-mail from a customer who said the business and licensing “staff is invariably helpful and cheerful,” and he noted reorganization of the lobbyist program.
Later in the day, Secretary Williams presented his office’s achievements to the House and Senate State Affairs committees. He noted that 24 of the 29 bills his office has worked on passed through the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House.
Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, wryly noted he sponsored one of the bills that failed. Foote, who chairs the House State Affairs, will be in the Senate next year.
“I do appreciate the opportunity to work with you and your staff and making sure that our election code was up to date and was workable,” he said.
Prior to being elected secretary of state in 2014, Williams served two terms as an El Paso County commissioner and one term as county clerk. He leaves office Jan. 8 when Democrat Jena Griswold is sworn in as the new secretary of state.
Williams closed his meetings with lawmakers with one last thank you.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime,” he said, “to serve as your Secretary of State.”