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.

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Colorado will lose some of its longtime county clerks

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell, in her office in Las Animas, holds up the sugar cookies she made for Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Two of Colorado’s longest serving county clerks told Secretary of State Wayne Williams Monday their decision not to run for re-election this year is a bittersweet one.

“I have very mixed emotions,” said Crowley County Clerk Lucile Nichols, who began working in the Clerk & Recorder’s office in 1972 and was first elected clerk in 1994.

“I have enjoyed the job but it’s 45 years of a lifestyle coming to an end.”

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell has served as the clerk for 32 years. “It feels weird,” she said, of leaving. “It really does.”

A number of small and rural counties do not have term limits for clerks. Larger counties do so clerks turn over every four or eight years, but what makes 2018 unusual is the number of longtime clerks who are saying goodbye to registering vehicles, running elections, recording documents and many, many, more duties.

Others who are retiring after this year include Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, who will also have spent 43 years in the office, and Washington County Clerk Garland Wahl, who was first elected to the post in 1982.

“We are losing decades of experience,” Williams said.

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Colorado’s Ken Kester: “How a public servant should be”

The life of the late Sen. Ken Kester, known for his humor , effectiveness and support for southeastern Colorado, was celebrated Monday at separate events in Las Animas and Cañon City. (Facebook: Dan Kester)

Covering the Colorado legislature was a blast and I was always reluctant to single out a favorite lawmaker because I liked so many of them, but on April 11, 2005 I  came clean.

“Do you have a favorite legislator? ” Colorado Pols, a new blog that was a must read for politicos, asked me in a Q & A.

“My press colleagues and lawmakers always tease me about Sen. Ken Kester,” was my answer. “He was so much fun in the House and he is a riot in the Senate.”

And it was true. How could you resist a guy who couldn’t resist having some fun with fellow Sen. Jim Isgar over a sex education bill.

“Isgar told me’s coming out with a bill where you’ll have driver’s training and sex education in the same car,” Kester deadpanned.

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Denver clerk eclipses previous records

Celebrating 2017 National Voter Registration Day at Civic Center Park were, from left to right, Alton Dillard, spokesman for Denver Elections; former Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson; Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state; and Debra Johnson, Denver clerk and recorder. They were in front of Denver’s new mobile voting center, listed as one of the office highlights for last year. (SOS photo/Julia Sunny)

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson commandeered last year’s eclipse to highlight her 2017 annual report that looks at elections, marriage licenses and other clerk functions.

“A large swath of the U.S. viewed the totality of the solar eclipse last year, and here at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, our accomplishments in 2017 eclipsed all previous years,” Johnson said in news release issued today.

“With the incredible growth in Denver, we’ve seized opportunities to lead the way in elections, records preservation, marriages and bringing our services directly to you.”

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El Paso County commissioners honor retiring elections manager Liz Olson

Liz Olson, the retiring elections manager for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, with four of the five county clerks she  served. From left to right, Pat Kelly, Wayne Williams, who now serves as Colorado’s secretary of state, Bob Balink and the current office holder,  Chuck Broerman. (EPC photo)

Five county clerks. Eleven general elections. Twenty-one years of efficient and excellent service.

And one big retirement party for Liz Olson, the elections manager of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, who is as respected across the state as she is in El Paso County.

“For more than two decades Liz Olson has set the standard for election officials,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners honored Olson last week with a proclamation and plenty of praise.

“I’ve worked really hard. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished,” Olson said at the end of the ceremony. “I very often put my work before my personal life and I don’t have any regrets. I felt like that’s what the job required. But I do want to tell my family how much I appreciate their support.”

Read moreEl Paso County commissioners honor retiring elections manager Liz Olson