Pets, plants & politics: making it work in Mineral County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Mineral County Clerk Eryn Wintz check out the map in her office in Creede. (SOS photo)

Eryn Wintz is one busy person.

She serves on the school board for the Creede School District, where she advocates for programs such as graphic design and auto mechanics.

She’s an EMT, which means her road gets plowed when it’s snowy, which is often when you live above 8,800 feet.

County Clerk Eryn Wintz’s dog Sadie sits between her and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in her SUV. (SOS photo)

And Wintz is the clerk and recorder in Mineral County, where the courthouse in Creede is about to be renovated and the operations moved to the mostly vacant Bulldog Mine office above town.

Not that Wintz hasn’t tried to find something right in the heart of Creede. Surely someone can accommodate her tiny, tiny, office for about, oh, 15 months. She worries that customers who need a new license plate or to file a document will find the new location inconvenient.

On top of this, Wintz takes a spin class in the mornings to help clear her mind.

As for the renovation, the library already has agreed to take her office plants during that time, although they’re not sure all of them will fit.

“We have more plants than people in this courthouse,” Wintz said.

Read morePets, plants & politics: making it work in Mineral County

Hinsdale County: silver, suffragettes and a starving prospector named Alferd Packer

Hinsdale County Clerk Joan Roberts and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in front of her vault in her Lake City office. (SOS photo)

A famous murder trial. A dog. A county clerk. A local reporter and a former journalist. And a speech by Susan B. Anthony.

My first trip to the Hinsdale County Clerk & Recorder’s office on Tuesday featured some of of my favorite things.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams had visited before — although Joan Roberts was a staffer back then and not the clerk, a job she was appointed to last year.

Hinsdale County is tiny — its population in 2015 was 774.

And Roberts prefers it that way. She and her husband honeymooned in the area 30 years ago and liked it so much she cried all the back to California, where she had grown up in Thousand Oaks. They sold their house and moved to Hinsdale County without jobs or a place to live.

“I just love it here,” she said.

Read moreHinsdale County: silver, suffragettes and a starving prospector named Alferd Packer

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.”

“In Colorado, we like things to be fair”

Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who announced in December she was leaving the Democratic Party and becoming an unaffiliated voter, speaks at a UChooseCO event Tuesday aimed at informing unaffiliated voters about the primary election. Seated to her left is Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

Two Colorado politicians who are unaffiliated appealed Tuesday to other unaffiliated voters to get involved in the June 26 primary election and help choose which Democratic and Republican hopefuls will be on the ballot in November.

Richard Skorman, president of the Colorado Springs City Council, and state Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, said they are glad not to be unaffiliated with any party. Skorman has been unaffiliated since 2002, while Jahn announced last December that after voting independently for years she was leaving the Democratic Party.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers writes on an inflatable “U” that is part of the UChooseCO campaign for unaffiliated voters as Colorado Springs City Council President Richard Skorman looks on. (UChooseCO photo)

“I really think there’s a lot of us out there who want to be able to weigh in on both sides,” Skorman said, during a news conference at Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs in the morning.

“I want you to know how important your voices are,” Jahn said, during a news conference on the west steps of the state Capitol in Denver in the afternoon.

The events were part of the Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ UChooseCO campaign to help inform unaffiliated voters about their new rights and responsibilities for participating in primary elections.  The campaign kicked off last week in Grand Junction.

Kent Thiry, chairman and CEO of DaVita,  financed and led Proposition 108, which voters passed in 2016 giving unaffiliated voters — the largest voting block in Colorado — the right to automatically receive primary ballots.

He said in Washington lawmakers have taken him aside to say they would like to vote on compromise bills but if they did they would be knocked out in their next primary election.

“We’ve got lots of elected officials who will be liberated to govern in ways they haven’t been historically,” Thiry told the Denver crowd.

At each event, speakers were asked to write on a yellow, 8-foot, inflatable U a word or phrase that reflected their values. The U’s will remain in their communities during the campaign. Williams, who lives in Colorado Springs and suffers a miserable commute to work in Denver, wrote “I-25” on the U in Colorado Springs. He continued the theme in Denver, writing “transportation” on that inflatable.

Read more“In Colorado, we like things to be fair”

Here come the unaffiliated voters

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams listens to questions Friday in Grand Junction as part of the UChooseCO campaign, intended to help unaffiliated voters learn their new role in the primary election. To his right is an inflatable 8-foot “U.” Participants were asked to write on it something that represented their values. Williams later penned, “Community.” (SOS photo)

GRAND JUNCTION — Bob Cook’s an unaffiliated voter in Mesa County who was asked to speak at the kickoff for a  campaign designed to help educate unaffiliated voters about their new role in the primary election.

He’s also the pastor of the Victory Life Church in Fruita, which is why minutes before the news conference on Friday he pretended to pull a speech from his jacket and said, “He is risen.”

Pastor Bob Cook is an unaffiliated voter in Mesa County. (SOS photo)

That got some laughs but Cook saved that sermon for today and instead dealt with the ballot measure Coloradans passed in 2016. Proposition 108 allows unaffiliated voters to automatically participate in primary elections without having to declare membership in either the Republican or the Democratic party. But they must choose between the Republican or Democratic ballot.

Cook was joined by Secretary of State Wayne Williams, clerks from three counties and several Mesa County elected officials to launch the UChooseCO campaign.

The goal is to let unaffiliated voters know they can now participate in primary elections, that they can choose whether they want to receive a Republican or a Democratic ballot and those who don’t will get both ballots but can only vote one.

“I hope that unaffiliated voters will do exactly what this campaign is designed to do: Take advantage of the chance to participate but just don’t mail in both the Republican and the Democratic ballots because that wipes out your vote,” Cook  said.

Read moreHere come the unaffiliated voters