Colorado’s “messy” caucus, marijuana intrigues Middle Eastern visitors

Video: A visit to Colorado.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to international visitors Wednesday.

Twelve international visitors on Wednesday peppered Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams about everything from marijuana to the “messy” precinct caucuses they observed the night before.

Back in their Middle Eastern countries, they are professors, bureaucrats, candidates and such. They hailed from a variety of countries, including Algeria, Kuwait and Tunisia. Some asked Williams questions in English; others relied on three three Arabic language interpreters.

The visitors were part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, which is under the U.S. Department of State. They also visited the state Capitol.

Palestinian Majed Bamya, who works for the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that he and has colleagues watched Coloradans caucus Tuesday night.

“It was quite messy,” he told Williams, sharing the the same assessment of many Colorado voters who participated.

“Are you implicated in this messiness?”

Read moreColorado’s “messy” caucus, marijuana intrigues Middle Eastern visitors

Secretary Wayne Williams welcomes new American citizens, talks about the importance of voting

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, listens as third graders from Graland Country Day School sing at today's naturalization ceremony at History Colorado.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, listens as third graders from Graland Country Day School sing at today’s naturalization ceremony at History Colorado.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams welcomed 49 new American citizens from 25 countries today at a naturalization ceremony at History Colorado.

“It’s an exciting day,” Williams told the immigrants, who clutched American flags and beamed for the cameras. “You have an equal right to participate with someone who might have lived here for 93 years. Your participation is what makes this nation different. The people get to make the decisions.”

Read moreSecretary Wayne Williams welcomes new American citizens, talks about the importance of voting

Colorado Secretary of State staffer observes Ukraine elections

The scene in Kiev. (Bouey photo)
Maidan Square in central Kiev, site of the Euromaidan revolution in 2014. The placards to the right are memorials to protesters who were killed in the square. (Steve Bouey photo)

By Keara Brosnan

Colorado’s Secretary of State’s campaign finance manager Steve Bouey traveled across the world to witness Ukraine’s first local elections in five years.

Previously, political parties appointed local officials.

“Ukraine is obviously an interesting place,” Bouey said. “The whole eastern half of the country is under rebel control and they want to secede and join Russia and Crimea. There’s a lot going on politically.”

Bouey was selected to be a part of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.  Bouey, a seasoned traveler who has worked for the Secretary of State’s office for more than six years, toured the country in October as part of his OSCE mission.

Stephen Bouey, with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, and his translator, Vlad, during Ukraine's local elections in October. (Bouey photo)
Steve Bouey, right, who is with Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and his translator, Vlad, during Ukraine’s local elections in October. (Bouey photo)

With the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, the Euromaidan 2014 revolution, the recent annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, traveling to Ukraine might seem  dangerous.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is Ukraine, it’s a dangerous place, there’s an ongoing civil war,’” Bouey said, “But I didn’t feel any danger or threat to my safety… I was in Afghanistan back in June and that was obviously a dodgy place, but I felt safe in Ukraine.”

Read moreColorado Secretary of State staffer observes Ukraine elections

Israeli official tells Colorado lawmakers “We’re always on the front lines”

Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, and David Siegel, the consul general of Israel, at the state Capitol today.
Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, and David Siegel, the consul general of Israel, at the state Capitol today.

David Siegel, consul general of Israel, stressed his country’s relationship with the United States during a talk Thursday at the state Capitol.

“Our hope is that Israel not be a partisan issue in this country,” he said, as he was flanked by the Senate president, Republican Bill Cadman, and the House speaker, Democrat Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.

Among those in attendance were Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his chief of staff, Gary Zimmerman, along with Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, the assistant minority leader, and Rep. Brian Del Grosso, R-Loveland, the minority leader. Other lawmakers included Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County.

Siegel noted that Western governors who visit Israel regularly talk about drought, a problem that has not plagued his country despite it’s location. He credited “constant innovation” for making Israel a “water surplus country.”

He also spoke about terrorism, ISIS and coping with enemies.

“Boy, is the Middle East a messy place,” Siegel said. “We’re always on the front lines.”