Voting and vocation at Denver’s Arrupe Jesuit High School

“I think voting rights is about human rights.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sits with seniors at Arrupe Jesuit High School Monday morning before handing out an award to the school for its effort in registering eligible students to vote. (SOS photo)

In a ceremony filled with prayers and promise, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Monday recognized Arrupe Jesuit High School for its efforts in getting students registered to vote.

The north Denver Catholic school serves the economically disadvantaged and one of its goals to empower graduates to continue their education and return to their communities as leaders. The 420-member student body is 93 percent Hispanic and 77 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Ashley Simpson and Jesus Baez Tapia, students at Arrupe Jesuit High School who encouraged their classmates to register to vote. (SOS photo)

During a senior assembly, Williams singled out two students, Ashley Simpson and Jesus Baez Tapia, for their efforts in working with the group Inspire Colorado to get their classmates inspired to register to vote.

Simpson and Tapia’s efforts led to the school receiving the Secretary of State’s Eliza Pickrell Routt award, which is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

“You’re going to graduate from high school soon. You’re going to be part of the community, and what happens in this community is up to you,” Williams said. “That’s the great thing about the democratic republic in which we live. There is no ‘the man” who makes the decisions for us. We get to make those decisions.”

Also addressing the seniors was state Rep. Dan Pabon, who represents the neighborhood, and Ryan Drysdale with Inspire Colorado.

“Our faith tells us we are working for the least amongst us,”  Pabon said. “I think voting rights is about human rights. ‘Democracy’ can be a controversial word in the world. There are some people who don’t want to have the people control their government because, God forbid, they might actually do something that helps the people.”

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SOS helps open-records measure survive tumultuous journey

Sen. John Kefalas talks about his public records bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law today. It was the second year in a row the Fort Collins Democrat has introduced a bill to modernize open records laws. (SOS photo)

An effort to modernize the state’s open records law died in one legislative session, spent months being studied by a working group at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, appeared destined to die again this legislative session but was reborn and finally signed into law today.

Gov. John Hickenlooper referred to its tumultuous journey.

“This is one of the bills that was hotly debated throughout the session, and really did require some gentle caressing and firm molding,” Hickenlooper said. “But when you see some very conservative components of our community and some very liberal components of our community coming together, generally you know that there’s good things close at hand.”

In urging the passage of Senate Bill 40 during committee hearings, Secretary of State Wayne Williams quoted “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which lawmakers said likely was a legislative first.

The law now requires public records that are kept digitally to be released to requestors in that format.

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New election commission to study possible fixes to Colorado laws, constitution

Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, and Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, serve on a new Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission formed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, and Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, serve on a new Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission formed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Two proposed ballot measures dealing with primary elections and a presidential primary will drive up costs for counties to run elections.

Language concerning recall elections added to Colorado’s constitution in 1913 conflicts with current federal and state law.

And what about signature verification for candidate and initiative petitions?

Those topics were discussed Friday during the inaugural meeting of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission created by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with support from legislators and others concerned with elections.

“We had a great first meeting, discussing ways we can make the election process better in Colorado, and I appreciate the time and input from the state’s leaders who joined us,” Williams said.

He sought input from Gov. John Hickenlooper, legislative leaders from both parties and others about who should serve on the commission. The goal is to come up with solutions to fix election problems identified by Williams, his staff and others.

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Denver Rep. Dan Pabon: “We believe in each other”

Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, his wife Heather and their 3-year-old son Alec at the House District 4 spaghetti dinner in north Denver Saturday night.
Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, his wife Heather and their 3-year-old son Alec at the House District 4 Democratic spaghetti dinner in north Denver Saturday night.

You just know a Democratic spaghetti dinner in north Denver is going to be tasty because of the neighborhood’s Italian heritage, and you know the keynote speech is going to be good when Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon has been tapped for the honors.

Pabon urged fellow Democrats to support the party’s presidential nominee, no matter the candidate they currently are backing.

“That’s how we are going to keep Michael Bennet in the United States Senate so he can vote up or down any Supreme Court nominee nominated by the president — no matter his or her party,” Pabon said during the House District 4 fundraiser Saturday night. “It’s how we are going to take the Colorado Senate, keep the Colorado House and how we are going to elect a Democrat to the White House.”

Two hot open races in Denver — for Denver district attorney and the University of Colorado regent in Congressional District 1– helped bolster turnout at the House District 4 dinner in the Highlands Methodist Church basement. Forty more people than had RSVP’d showed up to support Democrats and eat chef Jim Okerson’s meatballs and Italian sausage.

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Eat, drink and be merry, courtesy of the Colorado Restaurant Association

Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.
Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.

The Colorado Restaurant Association hosts one of the best legislative receptions of the year, held opening night when lawmakers are filled with optimism and still humming “Kumbaya.”

“This is a great tradition at the Colorado General Assembly,” said House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat.

“It’s a wonderful gathering. We’re all very excited about starting a new session and it’s always a good time to talk and have a drink with our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

The session opened Wednesday and by law must adjourn in May. The reception was held at the Colorado History Museum.

The Colorado Restaurant Association uses the event to inform lawmakers and reporters about the importance of their industry to state coffers. A variety of restaurants offered small plate samples of tacos, salmon and more.

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