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.

Read moreEmotional secretary of state knows nonprofits make a difference

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.

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

Secretary Williams visits historic Summit County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits today with the Summit County Clerk & Recorder’s office, including, left, chief deputy clerk Stacey Campbell, and Clerk Kathleen Neel, center. (SOS photo)

Visiting Summit County Clerk Kathleen Neel any time of the year is a treat but in the midst of the Olympics the trip is even more special.

The sign that welcomes visitors exiting Interstate 70 has been changed from “Silverthorne” to “Goldthorne” in honor of local snowboarder Red Gerard, who won a gold medal last Saturday.

From there Williams drove to the county seat of Breckenridge. Summit County was established in 1861 as one of the Colorado Territory’s original 17 counties.

“We had a good visit,” Neel said.”He wanted to make sure we felt we are being taken care of by the Secretary of State’s office — and we do. They never make you feel like you asked a stupid question.”

Summit County Clerk Kathy Neel color codes the voter service and polling centers located in the county. (SOS photo)

Williams has made it a point since he took office in 2015 to visit with all 64 clerks in their offices to see first hand what kind of challenges they face.

Neel and her chief deputy clerk, Stacey Campbell, talked with Williams about a variety of issues, including the nation’s first-ever risk-limiting audit that was completed after the 2017 election.

In addition, they discussed the June 26 primary, which will be the first time unaffiliated voters can automatically participate without officially declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat. They will just select which ballot they want to vote.

“It is a little nerve-wracking,” Neel said, “because we’ve never done an open primary before.”

Secretary Williams explains campaign to educate unaffiliated voters

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today talks with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Council about his office’s effort to educate unaffiliated voters about the June primary.  (SOS photo)

For the second time this month, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talked to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce about this year’s primary election, where unaffiliated voters for the first time in history will be able to vote in primary elections without formally affiliating with a major political party.

The office is developing a mostly digital campaign to let unaffiliated voters know they can only mark and return a Democratic or a Republican ballot. But they can’t vote both — if they do, the votes won’t count.

“This is part of what we’re trying to convey,” Williams told the chamber’s Public Affairs Council this morning. “Make sure your vote counts.”

The secretary of state’s office recently polled unaffiliated voters.  Among the results:

  • 39 percent intend to vote in the primary
  • 33 percent don’t
  • 28 percent are undecided
  • 27 percent plan to vote in the Democratic primary
  • 12 percent plan to vote in the GOP primary

Read moreSecretary Williams explains campaign to educate unaffiliated voters

Puerto Rico thanks Secretary Williams

The four secretaries of state who co-sponsored a resolution in support of self determination and equality for Puerto Rico were Luis Rivera Marín of Puerto Rico, Nellie Gorbea of Rhode Island, Wayne Williams of Colorado and Jim Condos of Vermont. (SOS photo)

The people of Puerto Rico have a special place in their hearts for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams after Williams co-sponsored a resolution supporting the island’s effort toward statehood.

The flags of the United States and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

That’s the word from Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, Luis Rivera Marín, after the National Association of Secretaries of State voted in support of the resolution at its winter conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

The vote on Monday followed a debate where some secretaries said NASS had no business getting involved in Puerto Rico’s quest for statehood.

“I’m so grateful for Secretary Williams’ support for the people of Puerto Rico,” Marín said. “His support has been outstanding and all of the people of Puerto Rico are really grateful for that.”

Read morePuerto Rico thanks Secretary Williams