Three Denver-area high schools receive voter registration award

Three Colorado high schools — KIPP Denver Collegiate, DSST Stapleton and Eaglecrest — were all awarded the Eliza Pickrell Routt award last week. The Eliza Pickrell Routt award is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

Colorado State Elections Director Judd Choate presented the awards to the three schools, which are in the Denver area.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office partners with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit organization that helps young people register to vote.

KIPP Denver Collegiate High School

Hannah Sieben with Inspire Colorado, Art Curtis, 12th grade social studies teacher at KIPP, and Judd Choate, Colorado state elections director. (SOS photo)

Twelve-grade social studies teacher Art Curtis encouraged his students to register to vote and to participate in the voting process. He successfully registered 86 percent of eligible seniors to vote.

KIPP stands for “knowledge is power program.” KIPP Colorado Schools is a network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in both college and life, according to its website.

DSST: Stapleton High School

Judd Choate, DSST Stapleton senior Zak Flitter-Bilello, and Meghan Baucum with Inspire. (SOS photo)

Denver School of Science and Technology: Stapleton High School registered 87 percent of eligible seniors due to the hard work of two seniors, Zak Flitter-Bilello and Zach Biffinger.

Zak and Zach worked with Inspire to become “Inspired leaders” at their school.

Eaglecrest High School

Judd Choate with Eaglecrest senior Emma Lovato. (SOS photo)

Eaglecrest High School received their second Eliza Pickrell Routt award last Friday.

Senior Emma Lovato has registered almost 500 students throughout her high school career. By giving classroom presentations, she got 86 of her fellow seniors to register.

She is going to American University next year to study American Government.

“You’re going to be my boss someday,” Choate told her.

Secretary Williams to senior class: “Thank you for striving and thriving”

Secretary Wayne Williams with the four students who led their school’s effort in voter registration, left to right: Brisa Aguilar-Velazquez, Samantha Mejia, Secretary Williams, Sandra Gonzalez-Terrones, and Lesli Guzman-Realzola. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week presented a voter registration award to seniors at STRIVE Prep – Excel High School, telling them it’s important for them to be involved because “you’ve got more at stake than anybody else.”

Secretary Williams recognized four students, Brisa Aguilar-Velazquez, Samantha Mejia, Sandra Gonzalez-Terrones and Lesli Guzman-Realzola, who pioneered the effort in getting their peers registered to vote as part of their senior seminar project.

They managed to get 95 percent of the senior class registered, which qualified the entire class to receive the Eliza Pickrell Routt award. It is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

The Secretary of State’s office partners with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit organization that helps young people register to vote. Inspire worked with Exel’s director of college access, Caty Husbands, to register eligible students to vote.

Excel Principal Ben Lewis reminded his students of the importance of voting.

The 2018 class of STRIVE Prep – Excel pose with Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center and Principal Ben Lewis, far left. (SOS photo)

“I’m so proud of you seniors for making this happen. Civic engagement is extremely important,” he said.

“And as you also know, there are a lot of problems in our government today. One of the ways we can solve those things is by exercising our voice and voting is one of the ways you can do that.”

Secretary Wayne Williams tells the seniors at Excel why it is so important to be involved. (SOS photo)

Excel Prep was founded five years ago and shares a campus and extracurricular activities with North High School.

There are 11 STRIVE campuses around Denver and three of those campuses are high schools, including Excel. STRIVE Prep was founded 11 years ago under the belief that students from all backgrounds deserve a college preparatory education regardless of race, economic circumstance or previous academic achievement, according to its websiteOf the 321 students, 98 percent are bilingual in English and Spanish and 91 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Sec. Williams was presented with a T-shirt and a welcome message. (SOS photo)

The hallways of the high school were decorated with banners from nearly every university and, rightfully so — 92 percent of the senior class that was honored with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award has been accepted into four-year colleges.

“Thank you for striving and thriving now that you’ve got this award,” Secretary Williams told the students.

“If all you do is get this award, it didn’t do any good. For those of you who have registered to vote, you have to participate in the process. This is your opportunity to play a role.”

Secretary Williams heads south to Rio Grande County

Rio Grande County Clerk & Recorder Cindy Hill and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at Hill’s office in Del Norte last week. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams paid a visit to Del Norte,  the county seat of Rio Grande County, to meet with Clerk Cindy Hill last week.

She and Williams spoke about the launch of two statewide voter registration campaigns, UChooseCO and Yo Decido. Hill says that she is very excited about the launch of these campaigns because it will help the public be informed.

“I always say that you have a right to be informed but, it is your responsibility to be informed,” Hill said.

Rio Grande County boasts 6,748 active voters.

She said a number of questions have come up about the election but are the usual inquiries that come up at every election, such as, “How can you open the ballots we send in without knowing who it came from?” Now they’re asking,  “How are the new primaries going to work?” The  UChooseCO campaign is designed to educate unaffiliated voters that while they can participate in the primary, if they get both the Republican and Democratic ballot mailed to them they can only vote.

There are eight employees who work in the clerk and recorder’s office and they handle everything from elections to recording to motor vehicle registrations. Hill has worked in the office for 16 years and has been clerk since 2011. She is running for re-election this November.

“We always enjoy Secretary Williams coming to see us,” Hill said. “It was nice to have him in.”

A recap of municipal election results

The adage “all politics is local” prevailed as 120 Colorado cities and towns held elections earlier this month.

Term limits, sales-tax extensions and sales-tax defeats and pot votes, the Colorado Municipal League has the results:

Six municipalities requested and received permission to provide or partner to provide broadband services, including Firestone, Frisco, Lake City, Limon, Lyons, and Severance. This election brings the total of cities and towns who have received voter authorization to 92.

Voters in Naturita passed six separate questions relating to marijuana, voting to allow medical and retail marijuana sales, manufacturing, testing, and cultivation, as well as to implement a sales tax and an excise tax on retail marijuana. Berthoud voters approved allowing municipally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to add retail sales.

Marijuana taxes passed in Crawford, Delta, Ordway, and Yuma. The lone marijuana tax to fail was in Orchard City.

Term limits
Pagosa Springs voters approved term limits of two consecutive four-year terms, while voters in Glendale approved term limits of three consecutive four-year terms. Lyons voters split the term limit questions, approving an increase to four two-year terms for a mayor, but keeping the limit for trustees at three. Voters in Red Cliff eliminated term limits for their elected officials.

Tax and bond issues
Fruita voters approved the city’s retention of all revenues from 2019 through 2024. Alma, Elizabeth, and Lyons voters passed lodging taxes.

Sales tax questions that passed around the state include:
• Basalt – new sales tax on tobacco and nicotine products
• Cortez – extension of sales tax for family recreation center
• Glendale – modification of current sales tax to remove earmark restricting use to water-related purposes
• Ignacio – new sales tax for capital improvements
• La Veta – extension of current sales taxes for museum expenses and street improvements
• Milliken – extension of sales tax for capital improvements
• Nederland – new sales tax for roads
• Paonia – new sales tax for general operating expenses

The sales tax questions that did not pass include:
• Arriba – for capital improvements
• Crestone – for general operating expenses
• Limon – for capital improvements
• Orchard City – for roads and law enforcement services

Wiley voters approved a mill levy increase, and Carbondale voters approved the extension of a current mill levy, both to fund streets and related improvements. Mill levy increases did not pass in Ault, Orchard City, and Pitkin.
Eckley voters approved $165,000 of debt for sanitation system improvements, Limon voters authorized $8.68 million of debt for capital improvements, and Nederland voters authorized $2 million of debt for wastewater improvements.
Erie’s request for debt authority of $13.75 million for a town hall expansion did not pass.

Publication requirements
Voters approved the publication of ordinances by titles only in Hugo, Kersey, Lake City, Milliken, and Springfield. Pitkin received authorization to no longer publish the bills list or contracts awarded.

Election date
Morrison and Palmer Lake voters approved moving their regular town elections to November of even-numbered years.

Administrative charter amendments
Glendale and Morrison voters approved updates to obsolete provisions of their home rule charter.

Other issues
• Antonito – approved the sale of a public building
• Berthoud – approved a 32.44 acre annexation
• Erie – approved the sale of 0.65 acres of town land
• Frisco – did not approve the sale or lease of a community park for residential use
• Pagosa Springs – approved the elimination of council districts and for council members to be elected at-large

Secretary Williams champions small business ventures for veterans

The Colorado Small Business Development Center Network hosted its 11th annual veterans small business conference in Colorado Springs Thursday. From left to right; Dan Nordberg, regional administrator of Regional VIII with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Aikta Marcoulier, director of the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center, Allie Coetzee Leslie,  deputy administrator with the SBA, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, and Kelly Manning, state director  of the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network. (SOS photo)

The Colorado Small Business Development Center Network hosted its 11th annual veterans small business conference in Colorado Springs today, aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow a business.

Secretary Wayne Williams emphasized that Colorado is one of the best states in the country to start a business when he spoke to the small business development center. Many business filing options are available online and Colorado is the only state to offer free online business certification.

Williams also announced that the  Secretary of State’s office plans to update the business registry system later this year.

“The current system is nearly 14 years old and in need of modernization,” he said. “Our system processes more than 850,000 filings per year and is accessed millions of times a year. This is a priority for my office and will position us for further growth and ensure we remain responsive to our citizens’ needs.”

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