All about U: 2 former journalists

The U from Dan Haley, formerly of the Denver Post and now president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Former Rocky cartoonist Ed Stein’s U.

Argh. I blew it. This was to publish on Saturday. So pretend it’s Saturday when you read it.

One of the cool things about Colorado Secretary of State’s UChooseCO campaign is seeing how the wooden U’s that have been handed out are decorated.  I thought former Rocky Mountain News cartoonist Ed Stein would, well, draw cartoons. I figured former Denver Post editorial page editor Dan Haley might go with a pop culture reference.

I guessed wrong.

The U’s are part of a campaign to inform unaffiliated voters that they can now automatically participate in primary elections without having to affiliate with one party or another.

Unaffiliated voters also are being told DON’T SPOIL IT. They will get two ballots, one for Republican candidates and the other for Democratic candidates, but they can only vote one. If they return both, neither ballot will count.

Ed Stein.
Dan Haley.

We asked those who received the wooden U’s to show off their work on Twitter and other social media venues.

“Luddite that I am I don’t get hashtags (I know, so 20th Century),” Stein wrote.

That’s OK, we promoted it for him.

Haley is known to quote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and drool over Angie Dickinson in “Police Woman.” He’s such a Broncos fan that Colorado Public Radio featured him in a story about the anniversary of the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl. But Haley, now the president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, instead went with a work theme.

Every day between now and the June 26 primary we will highlight a wooden U or two. Recipients were asked to consider their values when decorating or to just have fun. Some clerks highlighted their counties.

Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.


West Virginia secretary of state ties one on for benefit of Wayne Williams

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (WVA photo) )

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner showed up at the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference  Friday with clothing aimed at Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“See this?” Warner asked, as he proudly showed off his green tie with the “M” logo for Marshall University.

Marshall’s Thundering Herd defeated the Colorado State Rams 31-28 in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque last December.

The two secretaries of state waged a friendly bet beforehand: Each would make a $50 donation to a local food bank in the name of the winning team.

“Just make that check out in honor of Marshall Thundering Herd. Send photos — you’ll be a hero in Huntington,” Warner texted Williams afterward. “Then, even you can say, ‘We are all MARSHALL!’”

So Williams got a tiny taste of his own medicine. Two years ago at NASS’ winter conference in D.C., Williams showed up in a Denver Broncos T-shirt, fresh from watching the Super Bowl parade right outside his office in Denver. He wore some kind of Broncos paraphernalia for three straight days.

The secretary of state who had to grin and bear it was North Carolina’s Elaine Marshall. She and Williams also had made a food-bank wager.

Happy Trails to our own Lynn Waring

Colorado Secretary of State staffers Cheryl Hodges and D.J. Davis and retiring employee Lynn Waring, which was flown over the Capitol in her honor. (SOS photo)

Lynn Waring has wowed colleagues at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office with her Halloween costumes so it came as a bit of surprise that she picked Friday to retire, just weeks away from impressing co-workers with another fun ensemble.

There was the tea bag, the web site, the melted crayon.

But Waring is going to miss something else, too — what could be metro Denver’s first snowstorm on Monday.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve heard the weather report and not panicked and thought, ‘Oh, dear,” Waring said today.

Waring began at the Secretary of State’s office in 2011, and for the past two years has handled bingo-and-raffle reports. She previously worked for Boulder County, including a stint as chief deputy to the public trustee, Sandy Hume.

Colorado Secretary of State employee Lynn Waring’s costume one Halloween.

The Secretary of State’s office today feted Waring with cake, cookies, a $100 gift card, a  retirement letter from Gov. John Hickenlooper and a flag flown over the Capitol.

Many wondered what the office was going to be like without Waring, who was known to slip a breakfast bar or some other treat on her co-workers’ desks. I’m sad to see her go. She reminded me of a milder version of Pat Worley, the former legislative staffer aide who made the state House such a fun place to work.

Waring could be counted on to remind her colleagues of some activity hosted by Employee Relations Committee, of which she was a member.

The committee helped collect donations and gift cards for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office during unprecedented flooding in Baton Rogue, and items for the Colorado Food Bank as part of a Super Bowl bet with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office. Waring donned a chef’s hat when she and other members flipped pancakes for the all-you-can-eat employee breakfasts.

Waring was especially known for arranging the tours and treats for Take Your Kids to work day, where she loved to introduce her two grandkids.

Members of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Employee Relations Committee, along with businessman Rick Enstrom and Secretary of Wayne Williams. The committee helped organize the office’s food drive as part of a Super Bowl bet. From left to right: Kristine Reynolds, Cheryl Hodges, Enstrom, Lynn Waring, Secretary Williams, Janet Perry and Abbas Montoya. (SOS photo)

Waring and her husband, Russ, a surveyor, plan to sell their home in Arvada and move to their home in Estes Park, where they have loved spending weekends and holidays. She refers to him as “The Professor” because he taught “Surveyor 101” for 15 years at Arapahoe Community College.

The Professor was known to help out now and then, such as delivering pies to serve on Pi Day.

Members of the Employee Relations Committee, including Abbas Montoya, said Waring will be missed.

“Lynn’s enthusiasm was infectious,” he said, “and she made us all excited to do things, like Pi Day.”

The happiest guy at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office

Deputy elections director Hilary Rudy with staffer Ben Stuart last week. He wore the coat to work most of last week. (SOS photo)

Meet Ben Stuart, who wore his New England Patriots suit jacket to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office four out of five days last week. On Friday, he wore his Tom Brady jersey.

The same Ben Stuart who had arranged for a day off on Monday, the day after the Super Bowl game between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Win or lose, he knew he would need that day to, shall we say, recover.

So, why the Patriots? Well, Stuart grew up in Maine and attended college in Massachusetts before moving to Colorado about seven years ago. He works in the elections division for the SoS.

The 27-year-old worried when the Patriots fell behind 28-3 halfway during the third quarter.

“But I was running around telling my friends, hold on, Tom Brady’s done this before, including against Denver,” Stuart said, referring to the 2013 matchup where the Patriots were down 24-0 but ended up beating the Broncos 34-31.

Stuart’s belief in Brady & Belichick paid off. As the Boston Globe put it, the Patriots “staged the most incredible and improbable comeback in history of America’s game, beating the Falcons, 34-28, in overtime.”

“It was amazing,” Stuart said.

That’s actually how most folks in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office felt after last year’s Super Bowl, when the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50.

Students ask Secretary Wayne Williams the darndest questions

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at Willow Creek Elementary School in Centennial.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Willow Creek Elementary School in Centennial today to talk elections and government with more than 100 fourth graders. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams high-fives fourth graders today at Willow Creek Elementary School in Centennial.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams high-fives fourth graders today at Willow Creek.

What do you get when a bunch of third and fourth graders grill Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams about his job and elections?

You get some really sharp questions, as it turns out.

“A president can only do eight years,” one 8-year-old boy at Walnut Hills Elementary School asked. “How long can you go?”

Williams explained that like the president, he is limited to two, four-year terms. First elected secretary of state in 2014, Williams’ seat is up for election in 2018.

“If people if want to pay more taxes and some people don’t, then does everybody pay more?” a student at Willow Creek Elementary asked.

“Good question,”  Williams said. “In Colorado what we have is a vote and the majority decides.”

The secretary on Friday spoke to four classes of fourth graders at Willow Creek and then two classes of third graders at nearby Walnut Hills.

Read moreStudents ask Secretary Wayne Williams the darndest questions