Colorado Common Cause honors democracy champions

Colorado Common Cause held its Champions for Democracy lunch today in Denver, attracting members and others interested in Colorado civics. From left to right, attorney Scott Martinez, Amber McReynolds, executive director of National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, Roy Wardell, who joined the national Common Cause organization when it was founded in 1970, and Amanda Gonzalez, the executive director of Colorado Common Cause. (SOS photo)

A 77-year-old man who was a charter member of Common Cause when it formed in 1970 became emotional today when he was honored by the Colorado chapter of the grassroots organization.

Roy Wardell, who now lives in Platteville, was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in 1970 when he saw an ad in the Capital Times about being a “member of the people’s lobby.” And so he signed up.

Since then, Wardell has served on the board of Common Cause in Minnesota and in Colorado, starting in 2009 through the beginning of this year.

“I am so proud of what Common Cause does,” Wardell said, when he gained his composure. “Don’t miss a chance to support the kind of work Common Cause does.”

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The Fightin’ Granny fights no more

Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, and William Kane, 10, of Lakewood, during a news conference at the state Capitol in 2008. William had urged the lawmaker to pursue a resolution making skiing and snowboarding the official winter sports of Colorado. Green died Wednesday at the age of 79. (George Kochaniec Jr./Rocky Mountain News/ Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

“The Fightin’ Granny,” as former Rep. Gwyn Green was known, has died, unleashing a string of memories of the lawmaker, whose first victory in 2004 was so close it led to a recount.

She campaigned in a 1954 Chevy pickup that belonged to a fellow Jefferson County Democrat, Max Tyler, who succeeded Green when she resigned effective June 1, 2009, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, credits Rep. Gwyn Green for his deep involvement in Colorado Democratic politics. (Silverri FB photo)

Among those who paid tribute to Green after news of her death spread was Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado.

He wrote on his Facebook page how in 2007 he packed everything he owned in his grandfather’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid and drove from New Jersey to Colorado, where he managed his first state House campaign, for Green.

“Gwyn taught me everything about being progressive, having integrity, fighting the good fight and never letting up,” he wrote in part.

“I’ll never forget her infectious laugh, her tireless work ethic, and her short temper for injustice. Gwyn Green earned her nickname, ‘The Fightin’ Granny’ and she’s the one who taught me how to fight for what’s right.

“Rest in peace friend, I wouldn’t have this life without your mentorship and your trust in me. The world lost a warrior, and Colorado lost a legend.”

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Secretary Williams’ war games, election style proves to be epic

Colorado Secretary of State shakes hands with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen before her keynote speech at Colorado’s Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity exercise Thursday. (DHS photo)

The role-playing was, well, EPIC.

When election and cybersecurity officials from Colorado and and other parts of the nation gathered for a training exercise, they were given assignments to play as various election disaster scenarios played out.

Misleading tweets that confuse voters. Equipment outages. Hackers.

Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien served as a county election director.

Dwight Shellman, the county support manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, plays the role of a reporter asking tough questions during a mock election disaster drill.  He is interviewing Tammy Patrick of Democracy Fund, while in the background is the SOS’s Steve Bouey. (SOS photo)

Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill portrayed her former employee, Dwight Shellman, who now is the county support manager for the Secretary of State’s office.

And Shellman assumed the identity of various Denver reporters, from the Colorado Sun’s John Frank to 9News’ Marshall Zellinger, asking tough questions of election officials.

“I out Marshalled Marshall,” Shellman boasted.

Welcome to war games, election style or, as the exercise was officially dubbed, EPIC — Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity.

The goal, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said, was to help prepare Colorado election officials for the Nov. 6 election. Clerks, their staffers, county IT officials and others gathered in five separate rooms and were instructed to deal with the scenarios that were unfolding.

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Denver Rustlers meet again, head to State Fair in Pueblo

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne William mingled with fellow Denver Rustlers this morning in Greenwood Village before heading to the State Fair in Pueblo. From left to right, Rep. Dominque Jackson, D-Aurora, Williams, lobbyist Peggi O’Keefe and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. (SOS photo)

Few organizations bring folks from across the aisle together as much as the Denver Rustlers, a group of business, civic and political leaders who work to help the Colorado State Fair and the rural kids who show their animals there.

The Denver Rustlers mingled this morning in Greenwood Village before boarding three buses headed south to Pueblo.

State Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and his 2-year-old daughter Cora, at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

“I’m always honored to spend the day with these people and see the young 4-H’ers and their animals at the fair,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“This is a proud Colorado tradition that brings people together from across the state.”

The event began at the Tavern Tech Center with lawmakers and lobbyists, City council members and congress members and more. The Rustlers wear distinctive shirts from Rockmount Ranch, courtesy of Mizel’s firm, MDC Holdings/Richmond American Homes Foundation, and straw cowboy hats donated by the Koncilja law firm.

“Sure, people get a little nervous putting that shirt on the first time, but this is one of the great bipartisan days of the year,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “It’s great to invest in our young people, and it’s just as great to spend a day with people from all parties enjoying each other’s company with no political pressure at all.”

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Colorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined three members of the Arapahoe County Clerk’s office for a scenic photo outside the Salida SteamPlant where the Colorado County Clerks Association held its summer conference Aug. 20-22. From left to right, Williams, spokeswoman Haley McKean, Clerk Matt Crane and election manager Todd Davidson. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks gathered in Salida for their summer conference, combining educational workshops on various topics, such as election security, with lighthearted events, including visiting an arcade.

For some, the Colorado County Clerks Association conference was a bittersweet experience — more than one-fourth of the 64 county clerks will run their last election on Nov. 6. Some have decades of experience and have decided it is time to retire, others are term limited or choose not to stay in office.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back row, left, mingles with county clerks at the opening night reception for the clerks summer conference in Salida Aug. 20-22. Front row: Lincoln County’s Corrine Lengel, Yuma County’s Bev Wenger, and Baca County’s Sharon Dubois. Back row, Williams, Logan County’s Pam Bacon and Adams County’s Stan Martin. (SOS photo)

“Working in the clerk’s office has been a wonderful, exciting ride,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, who began in 1989, eventually was elected clerk and now is term limited.

“I have been truly blessed to serve the citizens of Moffat County and to be in the company of the smartest, most dedicated, hardworking people in the world.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams updated clerks on a variety of topics his office is handling.

“I served as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder so I understand what our clerks go through. They don’t just run elections. They record documents and register vehicles and more,” Williams said. “Our office is here to help them in any way we can.”

The clerks praised Williams and his staff for their efforts.

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