Secretary Williams talks dollars and sense to JBC

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks with lawmakers and members of the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday before a hearing on the department’s budget. Left to right: Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley; Secretary Williams; Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; and JBC Chairwoman Millie Hamner, D-Dillon. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams highlighted the office’s achievements and challenges when he presented his budget requests to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“We work very hard to make sure we provide the services that Colorado expects and deserves and our paying for with their fees,” he said. “I’m proud that we are able to do that with business fees that are among the lowest in the nation.

Secretary Wayne Williams, the SOS’ budget director, Brad Lang, and Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, at Tuesday’s Joint Budget Committee hearing. (SOS photo)

“As the state grows, as our processes change, we need to keep pace with that. We need not to be caught napping and waiting and our budget anticipates that.”

He noted the office is working on an information campaign to educate voters about Colorado’s first open primary next June, when unaffiliated voters will receive a ballot and must decide whether to vote the Democratic or Republican ticket.

Voters last year approved that measure with the passage of Proposition 108 and Williams has been on a speaking tour, explaining it to Colorado voters. He will address the League of Women Voters in Durango on Saturday.

He told the JBC that Colorado has just completed the first ever in the nation risk limiting audit, which is an audit of the state’s elections based on mathematical algorithms.

“That provides us with a statistically significant probability that the state’s elections systems correctly tabulated Coloradans ballots,” Williams said.

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From Telemundo to a town hall, Secretary Williams on the go

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stands with volunteers answering election questions during a phone bank at Telemundo on Thursday. They are, left to right, Ben Schler with the SOS; John Shoch; his daughter, Gloria Shoch and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talked elections Thursday night in two appearances, first at Telemundo and then at a town hall with Sen. Angela Williams at Manual High School in Denver.

The interview at Telemundo, an American Spanish-language television network, focused on Tuesday’s coordinated election. Most but not all of Colorado voters are deciding on contests in their districts, from tax questions to school board races and municipal contests.

In addition, the Secretary of State’s office participated in a phone bank, handling election questions from viewers.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and state Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, at a town hall Nov. 2. (SOS photo)

The conversation at Sen. Williams’ town hall concerned business operations at the office and elections, followed by a question-and-answer period.

Among the participants were Denver residents Pat Manning and Ruben Espinosa.

Secretary Williams  talked about the ballot measure voters approved last year that allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections without declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat. That means unaffiliated voters will receive both a Democrat and Republican ballot mailed to them for the June 2018 primary, but they can return only one ballot.

Already, there is plenty of interest in Colorado’s crowded open governor’s race and other contests.

“Angela and I, by the way, are two of the people in the state not running for governor,” the secretary of state said to laughter.

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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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