Colorado SOS participates in Homeland Security election exercise

Two Colorado Secretary of state staffers, Trevor Timmons, left, and Rich Schliep, right, flank two Dominion Voting Systems staffers, Donetta Davidson and Kay Stimson, after a Department of Homeland Security tabletop exercise Monday. (SOS photo)

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office and other agencies participated Monday in a virtual exercise aimed at election preparedness.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security sponsored the tabletop exercise with some 20 states as the general election looms and concerns continue about election security issues.

“They posed scenarios and asked, ‘How would you approach this?’” said Trevor Timmons, chief information officer for the Colorado Secretary of State.

Timmons and other SOS officials, along with members of the Colorado National Guard, the Governor’s Office of Information and Technology and DHS officials based in Colorado participated in the table top from the Secretary of State’s conference room.

Additionally,  Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, recognized as a leader in election security, appeared today on a national public radio program to talk about election security.

“You have to have processes in place that people can have confidence in. That’s why Colorado has some of the highest voter participation rates in the country,” he told The Takeway.

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Wednesday is Colorado Day

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during his trip to visit the county clerk and recorders this summer in Jackson and Grand counties. (SOS photo)

On Aug 1, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation of statehood for Colorado, making our colorful state the 38th member of the Union. Now, 142 years later, many across Colorado are celebrating with free admissions to parks on Aug 6, cooking up a classic Colorado meal or by attending any number of the cultural events in Denver this week.

Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne will celebrate Colorado Day at the History Colorado Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday. (Here’s a list of events at History Colorado for the day.)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has lived in Colorado for 26 years and enjoys life with his wife Holly and family in Colorado Springs. He said the beautiful weather, friendly people, and “can-do” attitude drew him to Colorado as a recent University of Virginia law school graduate.

Colorado native Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the SOS, grew up in Boulder and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors.

“Like everybody else, I love the mountains,” Cash said. “As a youngster, I especially valued skiing. Now that I have no knees and I-70 is impassable it’s practically irrelevant, so I find other ways to enjoy the outdoors.”

Among other Secretary of State staffers, enthusiasm also runs high for the Centennial State.  Just last month, Tim Griesmer and Ben Schler hiked to the summit of San Luis Peak as part of the #UChooseCO campaign.

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Secretary Williams, others, concentrate on election security in Philly

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, center front, with some of the nation’s secretaries of state, including Colorado’s Wayne Williams, back right. She spoke to the National Association of Secretaries of State about election security at NASS’ conference in Philadelphia on July 14.

Election security once again dominated the conversation — and Colorado once again proved to be a leader — when the National Association of Secretaries of State gathered in Philadelphia for its summer conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlined for the group the steps his office has taken when it comes to cybersecurity — moves that that led Colorado to be named a finalist for the fourth time in five years for a NASS award that recognizes innovation.

“Elections only work if people trust them,” Williams said.

Four Coloradans with a seat at a high-powered elections security meeting in Philadelphia; Judd Choate, elections director for the Colorado secretary of state, Sarah Ball Johnson, clerk for the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Amber McReynolds, elections director for Denver.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the director of the Department of Homeland Security, reinforced to secretaries of state and election officials that one of her top priorities has been to enhance the resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure.

“As I see it,” she said, “election security is national security.”

And the day before NASS kicked off its conference, Williams and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council met at the same Philadelphia hotel to discuss the security of election systems.

The group oversees how the Department of Homeland Security works with state and local jurisdictions to implement its designation of elections systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“At one point there were 27 people around the table — including members of DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and other national groups – four of those 27 were from Colorado,” Williams said. “Colorado’s commitment to election security is so strong.”

The other Coloradans at that meeting were Judd Choate, the elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State, Sarah Ball Johnson, the clerk in Colorado Springs, and Amber McReynolds, Denver’s elections director.

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Goodbye to the Renaissance Man, Roger Johnson. Rest in peace.

Roger Johnson at a Broncos game with his two sons, Gunnar, left, and Chris, right. (Johnson family photo)

You have to be intrigued by a guy who brings a guitar to a Christmas party and sings — the Wabash Cannonball?

Yup, Roger Johnson loved that song and plenty of other music. He was first chair in violin in high school and named his daughter, Amy, after his violin teacher. He also loved Rhapsody in Blue, which was played at his memorial service on Sunday.

I only met Roger one time but his youngest son, Chris Johnson, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ executive assistant, so I heard plenty about the man whom attorney Brian McConaty eulogized Sunday as a “larger than life character.”

Johnson was a doctor and a lawyer who was proud to have started the Knife and Gun Club at Denver General when he was in the ER.  He and his wife Gail Laxalt Johnson dined at the White House with President Reagan. Johnson shared his prize-winning tomatoes with everyone.

“The term ‘Renaissance Man’ is perhaps overused these days but never more accurately applied than to Roger,” McConaty said during the service.

Gaspar Perricone, who played for Northwesterrn University, and went on to become a Colorado judge.

Roger Johnson was born Oct. 23, 1928, and died May 29, 2018. He was 89. He is survived by his wife and seven children he loved to talk about. (Here is his obituary.)

Johnson attended Northwestern University where his roommate was Coloradan Gaspar Perricone, the star running back for the team when the Wildcats won the Rose Bowl in 1949 . Perricone invited Johnson to Colorado for a visit and that was it. Colorado is where Johnson wanted to live.

Johnson and Perricone were avid skiers. To pay for their lift tickets, they would play guitar and sing at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Both men graduated from the University of Denver School of Law and went into the Army.

Perricone went on to become a District Court judge in Colorado. Johnson went on to earn his medical degree at the University of Colorado.

“He would go to medical school during the day and then do the legal briefing work … in the evening with some court people complaining that he smelled like formaldehyde from his Anatomy Lab,” McConaty said.

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SBA touts Colorado’s amazing small business success stories

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, left, and Dan Nordberg, right, the regional director of the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII, with the winners of the Colorado Small Business Persons of the Year award, Margot Langstaff and Elisa Hamill with LifeHealth in Littleton. The Colorado-based company provides a range of clinical health services. (SOS photo)

Check out these Small Business Administration loan success stories in Colorado: Otter Box, Chipolte, Snooze, New Belgium Brewing and more.

At an awards ceremony Wednesday in Centennial,  Dan Nordberg, regional director of the SBA’s District VIII, emphasized the impact of small businesses and the SBA in the state.

“Over the last 64 years more than 70,000 Colorado companies have financed their American dream using the SBA’s funding programs,” he said.

The ceremony was part of National Small Business Week, which includes local business events and workshops throughout the state. In addition, each state hands out awards and some recipients are honored at an event in Washington, D.C.

“It was heartwarming to see the successs of these great businesses.  More than a million Coloradans work for the more than 600,000 Colorado small businesses,” noted Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Our office works hard to provide common sense easy filings for every business and nonprofit across the state.”

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