Secretary Williams finds plenty to say

Dawn Bryan, Tamra Farah, Evie Ashmore and Judy Allen pose for a photo before the start of the Douglas County Republican women lunch on Wednesday in Lone Tree. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has been on the speaking circuit in recent weeks, answering questions about voter lists, election security and how it will work next year when unaffiliated voters get mailed a Democrat and a Republican ballot for the primary.

Williams is scheduled to address Colorado Mesa University’s political club on Friday, and he will appear with Sen. Angela Williams — no relation but they joke about being brother and sister — at a town hall in Denver on Nov. 2. He or his deputy have spoken to two chapters of the League of Women voters, and the Broomfield Democrats and the Jeffco Republicans.

Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet listens as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Douglas County Republican Women’s group. (SOS photo)

“Colorado lets people vote,” Williams told the Douglas County Republican Women on Wednesday in Lone Tree.

“I grew up in a community in Virginia where there was no school board election, they were appointed. I grew up in a community where you didn’t get to vote on tax increases, on ballot questions.

“You have the right to vote here and Coloradans treasure that right.”

This fall’s coordinated election is Nov. 7. There is no statewide ballot measure, but voters will consider school board races, City Council races in some jurisdictions and local tax measures. Clerks could mail ballots starting Monday.

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#COleg, others mourns deaths of Debbie Haskins and Dan Chapman

Debbie Haskins, a much beloved legislative staffer, died Oct. 7. Services are set for Saturday. (Haskins family photo)

UPDATE: OLLS writes a wonderful story about Debbie Haskins.

Tributes continue to pour in for Debbie Haskins, one of the many behind-the-scenes players who provide stability at the Colorado Legislature, a place where lawmakers make their mark and then move on.

Haskins became an entry-level attorney for the Office of Legislative Legal Services in 1983 and worked her way up to assistant director. She died Saturday, Oct. 7.

Haskins had appointments scheduled for the week of Oct. 9 to work on legislation for the 2018 session.

Her husband, Steve, said her heart “just stopped.”

“It was very painless and it was quick,” he said. “She turned 60 in April. We had a big party for her. We just went on a big trip to France and Italy last May so that was good.”

A celebration of Debbie Haskins’ life is planned for 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 21, at First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3501 S. Colorado Blvd., in Cherry Hills Village.

“One of the hardest working people I’ve ever known,” former state Sen. Linda Newell tweeted after Haskins’ death. “Her  level of detail literally saved kids’ lives in my bills. Beautiful spirit.”

News of Haskins’ death stunned her family, friends and the Capitol community, which is its own kind of family.

“Not many people outside the Capitol know who Debbie Haskins is, but you can bet that over the past 34 years, not a single piece of important Colorado legislation got passed without Debbie’s eyes on it,” Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman said in a statement.

“She was one of the important conductors who made sure the trains ran on time, and it was thanks to her that new legislators and staffers could easily learn how the law-making process works.”

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Knoedler & Witwer: The next generation

Aida Knoedler and Kit Witwer ran for president of their fifth grade class at Dennison Elementary School in Jefferson County.

Facebook is filled these days with posts about people’s kids running for school offices, but the one that warmed my heart belonged to former state Rep. Matt Knoedler of Lakewood and featured a picture of his daughter.

“Wouldn’t you vote for her? Meet Dennison Elementary’s newly elected 5th grade President!”

Knoedler’s Facebook post inspired several fun comments, including one from Jon Caldara, the political court jester at the right leaning Independence Institute.

“Does that mean she has the power to pardon me?” Caldara asked. “She does but she wouldn’t,” Knoedler replied.

Dennison was one of five Colorado schools recognized Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools, cited for high performance on state and national tests, The Denver Post reported.

Aida Knoedler beat more than 10 other candidates, including the son of former state Rep. Rob Witwer, which inspired this gracious tweet:

Knoedler jokingly responded to the Tweet by saying it was “fake news” that his daughter colluded with sixth graders.

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Thanks, Arkansas Valley P.E.O.s, for letting me talk about Cottey College

Sharon Kolomitz of P.E.O. chapter W in La Junta and Lynn Bartels, a 1977 Cottey College graduate, at the Akransas Valley P.E.O. brunch held at the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta on Aug. 26.

A while back, political consultant Greg Kolomitz was browsing through Facebook when he called out to his mother, Sharon, “Hey, Mom, Lynn Bartels went to Cottey College and she really promotes it.”

That’s how I ended up in La Junta one week ago today speaking to the Arkansas Valley P.E.O. chapters at their annual brunch about the incredible two-year college I attended from 1975 to 1977.

Sharon Kolomitz is a member of P.E.O.’s Chapter W in La Junta. P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization that owns and supports Cottey, which was founded in Nevada, Mo., by Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in 1884, back when women really wanted an education and their choices were limited.

The program for the Arkansas Valley P.E.O. brunch.

I talked about my Cottey experience, and how it influenced my 35-year career in journalism and current job as spokeswoman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The women laughed when I told them my friends accuse me of “Cheneying” the job, because Wayne had called me to ask about the credentials of the some of the applicants for the position.

Now, Cottey might be a small school — and “one of the finest,” as the song goes — but the Cottey connections are quite widespread.

Just ask Channel 9’s award-winning producer Nicole Vap, but more on that later.

Former state agricultural commission John Stulp is the latest example of a Cottey connection, which I discovered at the P.E.O. gathering in La Junta.

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Secretary of State’s office talks to voters

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to the Jefferson County Republican Party Wednesday night about two ballot measures what allow participation by unaffiliated voters and what that means for elections. (SOS photo)

By Lizzie Stephani

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office believes in educating voters on election issues, which is why the top folks agreed to speak to various groups this month.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday addressed the Jefferson County Republican Party, which had questions about two successful ballot measures that change the role of unaffiliated voters in primary elections.

“Colorado election law has changed and we want to make sure that our citizens understand the impact,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert addressed voter privacy surrounding the President Tump’s request for voter data when she spoke to the Broomfield Democrats earlier this month and again to the League of Women Voters during a recent appearance in Lakewood.

“We’re hoping that by educating people and talking about it, we can get people to understand what happened and not be concerned that their information is public,” Staiert said.

Other questions posed at the League of Women Voters event concerned provisional ballots at the precinct level and due process for unaffiliated voters in primary elections.

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