All about U: Ritter & Stapleton

Olivia Stapleton, the 4-year-old daughter of gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, decorated his U.
Former Gov. Bill Ritter, who now works at his alma mater, Colorado State University, chose school colors.

A former Colorado governor and the state treasurer who wants to move across the hall into the governor’s office joined in a campaign to decorate wooden U’s to highlight the automatic participation of unaffiliated voters in the primary election for the first time in state history.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams is handing out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign, which stresses to unaffiliated voters that they will receive  both the Democratic and Republican ballots but they have to pick just one ballot. If they vote two, neither will count.

Every day between now and the June 26 primary we will highlight a U or two. Recipients were asked to consider their values when decorating or to just have fun. Some clerks highlighted their counties.

Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.

SBA touts Colorado’s amazing small business success stories

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, left, and Dan Nordberg, right, the regional director of the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII, with the winners of the Colorado Small Business Persons of the Year award, Margot Langstaff and Elisa Hamill with LifeHealth in Littleton. The Colorado-based company provides a range of clinical health services. (SOS photo)

Check out these Small Business Administration loan success stories in Colorado: Otter Box, Chipolte, Snooze, New Belgium Brewing and more.

At an awards ceremony Wednesday in Centennial,  Dan Nordberg, regional director of the SBA’s District VIII, emphasized the impact of small businesses and the SBA in the state.

“Over the last 64 years more than 70,000 Colorado companies have financed their American dream using the SBA’s funding programs,” he said.

The ceremony was part of National Small Business Week, which includes local business events and workshops throughout the state. In addition, each state hands out awards and some recipients are honored at an event in Washington, D.C.

“It was heartwarming to see the successs of these great businesses.  More than a million Coloradans work for the more than 600,000 Colorado small businesses,” noted Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Our office works hard to provide common sense easy filings for every business and nonprofit across the state.”

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Anchors A-Wayne! Secretary Williams finishes naval submarine chapter

The USS Colorado officially joined the fleet today in a ceremony in Connecticut attended by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and other Coloradans.

Four years ago, Colorado’s new secretary of state, Wayne Williams, headed to Rhode Island to participate in a ceremony marking the official start of construction on the USS Colorado.

On Saturday the submarine officially joined the U.S. fleet in a ceremony attended by Williams, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and others.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and his wife Janet, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne of Colorado Springs at today’s naval ceremony in Connecticut.

“It’s exciting to know that Colorado’s name and our values will be carried around the world by such a magnificent submarine,” Williams said.

Sen. Bennet shared that sentiment.

“For decades, people will see her come and go and say ‘There goes the Colorado.’ And I think that’s wonderful,” he told The Denver Post.

Colorado Politics posted a video of the event with a story that began “Colorado has its Broncos, its Rocky Mountains and its Olympic stars. Saturday morning it officially added a $2.7 billion nuclear attack submarine.”

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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

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