Emotional secretary of state knows nonprofits make a difference

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, with Michelle Majeune, who works with people with developmental disabilities, and Linda Childears, the Daniels Fund president and CEO, at the Colorado Nonprofit Association lunch today. (SOS photo)

The Colorado Nonprofit Association’s annual award lunch has produced its fair share of tears over the years as the community thanks those who make a difference in so many ways, and this year’s catalyst for catharsis was Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Usually, it’s the award recipient who is weepy.

In this case it was Williams, set to hand out an award to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who became so emotional when  praising nonprofit groups that he had to pause for several seconds before he could continue.

“For those who don’t know my two daughters, we learned as they grew that they had significant speech deficiencies,” Williams told a ballroom full of people at the Hilton Denver City Center. “So we worked with The Resource Exchange, one of our great nonprofits in the Colorado Springs area, to provide services for them.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams became emotional today when talking about the impact of a nonprofit on his family. (SOS photo)

Williams paused, and when he could resume speaking, his voice was thick with emotion.

“In 2013 I had the opportunity to hear the youngest of those daughters give the salutorian address at Rampart High School,” he said, to applause.

“Folks,” Williams said, struggling to continue, “the work that you do makes a real difference in the lives of everyone.”

After the lunch, Williams talked with the Gerry Rasel, director of membership services for the Colorado Nonprofit Association, who told him she cried during his speech.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association exists to strengthen nonprofits. Today was its 23rd annual awards lunch, capping a week of highlighting nonprofit agencies.

Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, talks at a reception before today’s awards lunch. (SOS photo)

“Colorado Nonprofit Week is one of our favorite times of the year because it brings all of us together and truly shines a light on the important contributions that happen everyday in communities,” said Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association.

Read moreEmotional secretary of state knows nonprofits make a difference

Will Colorado swing blue? Ask the media.

Moderator Dick Wadhams asked questions of three journalists — Chuck Plunkett, Shaun Boyd and Joey Bunch — during a discussion on the role of media in politics at a forum in Lakewood last Thursday sponsored by the Foothills Republicans. (Rick Entrom/Foothills Republicans)

Three journalists discussed Colorado’s status as a red/blue/purple state, the condition of their industry and how it impacts political coverage, and the upcoming election during a forum hosted by the Foothills Republicans.

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin and her communications director Beth Clippenger at the Foothills Republicans lunch March 8. (SOS photo)

Chuck Plunkett, the editorial page editor of The Denver Post, CBS Denver’s Shaun Boyd and Joey Bunch with the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Colorado Politics fielded questions last Thursday from the audience and the moderator, former GOP chairman Dick Wadhams.

Before the start of the forum, Foothills President Rick Enstrom invited elected officials and candidates to introduce themselves, but it was Wadhams who got the biggest applause, when adding his 2 cents during a question about money in politics.

“Do away with every stupid finance law that exists,” he said. “Allow any amount of money from any entity at any time but with full and immediate disclosure and let the people decide if (the candidates) are bought off or not.”

Bunch got the biggest laughs with his homespun colloquialisms, including. “You know when a fact becomes a fact? When it gets a lobbyist.”

Read moreWill Colorado swing blue? Ask the media.

Justin Pilcher: A short life, well lived

Congressman Ed Perlmutter and his wife Nancy, and political consultant Audrey Kline and her husband Justin Pilcher at the wedding of Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Ian Silverii at the Governor’s Mansion in 2017. Pilcher’s memorial service was Saturday. (SOS photo)

A while back I got into a Twitter spat with Audrey Kline, a great young Democrat I’ve encountered over the years, and when we talked in person about our 140-character standoff she explained her reasoning to me:

Rep. Jessie Danielson holds her daughter Isabelle at a reception following a memorial service for Justin Pilcher Saturday. (SOS photo)

Her husband had a rare form of cancer and where would people be without Obamacare.

Justin Spencer Pilcher died Feb. 25 at the age of 33.

It was standing-room only at his memorial service Saturday at Olinger Crown Hill, and as I looked at the sports paraphernalia and Scouts uniform and the videos, all I could think of was the ending of the indelible movie “Brian’s Song:”

Brian Piccolo died of cancer at the age of 26. He left a wife and three daughters. He also left a great many loving friends who miss and think of him often. But when they think of him, it’s not how he died that they remember — but how he lived. How he did live!”

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Inspire Colorado’s work with high school students inspires donors

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams speaks at a fundraiser Monday for Inspire Colorado, a nonpartisan group that encourages high students to register to vote and get involved. To his left, in blue, is Donalyn White with Inspire Colorado and to her right, in a white shirt, is Bob Meinzer, a board member with the national Inspire group. (SOS photo)

Twitter is filled with suggestions about motivating young people to vote this year, but the Centennial State is way ahead of that idea, thanks to Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Inspire Colorado.

Over the last three years, Inspire Colorado has worked with schools across the state in a student-led movement to register classmates to vote or get those already registered to pledge to vote. So far Inspire Colorado has signed up more than 7,000 students.

Williams — who got his start in politics in high school — believes it is so important for young people to be involved he established the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award, which the offices hands out to high schools where more than 85 percent of the senior class has registered to vote.

Roxane White, former chief of staff for Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose daughter Donalyn White organized the fundraiser for Inspire Colorado. (SOS photo)

“We would not be where we are today in the state of Colorado without the wonderful support of the Secretary of State’s office and Secretary Williams,” said Ryan Drysdale, regional manager for Inspire Colorado.

Drysdale, Williams and Roxane White, the former chief of staff for Gov. John Hickenlooper, were among the speakers at a fundraiser Monday night in Denver to benefit Inspire Colorado, a nonpartisan organization that works with students, teachers and school administrators to talk to classes about the importance of civic engagement.

“I have to say that Inspire Colorado has become my top charity,” White said. “I’m concerned about the growing inequality in America and the growing anger in America and the feeling that we can’t make a difference.”

Read moreInspire Colorado’s work with high school students inspires donors

Colorado will lose some of its longtime county clerks

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell, in her office in Las Animas, holds up the sugar cookies she made for Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Two of Colorado’s longest serving county clerks told Secretary of State Wayne Williams Monday their decision not to run for re-election this year is a bittersweet one.

“I have very mixed emotions,” said Crowley County Clerk Lucile Nichols, who began working in the Clerk & Recorder’s office in 1972 and was first elected clerk in 1994.

“I have enjoyed the job but it’s 45 years of a lifestyle coming to an end.”

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell has served as the clerk for 32 years. “It feels weird,” she said, of leaving. “It really does.”

A number of small and rural counties do not have term limits for clerks. Larger counties do so clerks turn over every four or eight years, but what makes 2018 unusual is the number of longtime clerks who are saying goodbye to registering vehicles, running elections, recording documents and many, many, more duties.

Others who are retiring after this year include Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, who will also have spent 43 years in the office, and Washington County Clerk Garland Wahl, who was first elected to the post in 1982.

“We are losing decades of experience,” Williams said.

Read moreColorado will lose some of its longtime county clerks