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

Thanks, Judd Choate, for your service

Two Colorado Secretary of State staffers, county support manager Dwight Shellman and elections director Judd Choate, at the National Association of State Election Directors conference Sunday. Choate is the outgoing president. (SOS photo)

The National Association of State Election Directors on Sunday thanked its outgoing president, Colorado’s election director Judd Choate.

The tribute came as NASED gathered in Washington, D.C., for its winter conference.

The association’s goal is to promote accessible, accurate and transparent elections across the country and U.S. territories. The role of NASED, pronounced “NASS ed,” has grown increasingly more important as concerns mount over cyber security and foreign meddling.

“It has been an extraordinary year,” Choate said. “NASED is an amazingly important organization, and it has been my honor to lead it this past year.”

Judd Choate, Colorado’s election director, received gifts from the National Association of State Election Directors which he led for the past year. (SOS photo)

Choate, who has served on the group’s executive committee the past five years, received a baseball glove and ball signed by the NASED board. He’s a baseball fanatic who was a scout with the Kansas City Royals in the 1990s.

The group also gave him a bobblehead replica of himself in a seersucker suit.

NASED met at the Fairmont Hotel where the National Association of Secretaries of State also was holding its winter conference. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams serves NASS’ executive committee.

“Judd’s leadership of NASED has helped Colorado by giving us additional insights and opportunities,” Williams said. “I think he’s done a great job leading this important organization.”