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 more

Lincoln County: All quiet on the eastern front (except for elections)

Lincoln County Clerk Corinne Lengel and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at her office in Hugo Wednesday. (SOS photo)
Lincoln County Clerk Corinne Lengel and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at her office in Hugo Wednesday. (SOS photo)

Lincoln County Clerk Corinne Lengel appreciated the fact that Secretary of State Wayne Williams drove to her county two days in a row this week.

Williams met with Lengel and her staff in Hugo on Wednesday, which was the last of three county clerk visits that day. He also traveled to see the Otero and Crowley county clerks.

The secretary returned to Lincoln County the next day to address the Colorado County Clerks Association eastern regional meeting in Limon.

“I was really impressed he took the time,” she said. “I’m very happy with the relationship he has made with the clerks.”

Williams couldn’t get over the spacious office space Lengel and her staff share at the Lincoln County Courthouse. In some clerks’ offices workers are shoehorned in but in Hugo Williams joked staffers must have to shout at the next desk to be heard.

Read more

Secretaries of state learn about messaging in the Big Easy

Secretaries of state attending a workshop in New Orelans take a selfie in Jackson Square on Thursday. In the back, second to left, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is holding the camera.
Secretaries of state attending a workshop in Louisiana take a selfie in Jackson Square on Thursday. In the back, second to left, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is holding the camera. (SOS photo)

Secretaries of state — including Colorado’s Wayne Williams — and communication staffers from 20 different SOS offices are in New Orleans for a two-day “connect & collaborate” conference.

Among the presenters at the event: Twitter and Facebook officials who provided invaluable tips for how secretaries of state can get out their message on voter registration and other issues — and have a little fun.

The workshop was put on by the National Association of Secretaries of State and hosted by Louisiana SOS Tom Schedler and his staff. NASS’ Kay Stimson led the workshop “Negative Publicity & Hostile Reporters.” I chuckled when I read the title. We’ve had some of the first, very little of the latter.

Read more