One of the best things about riding the 16th Street Mall shuttle is you run into folks you know, including Tom Noel, a lover of history, particularly Denver and Colorado history.
It turns out Professor Noel, or Dr. Colorado as he is known, on Monday was hitching a ride to his barber so he would look spiffy for Colorado Day today when Noel and other members of the new State Historians Council will be introduced to the public at History Colorado. Noel will lead the group.
I was happy to introduce Noel to my boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who asked, “What’s a state historian?”
Colorado Secretary of State Williams is handing out the wooden U’s as part of the office’s UChooseCO campaign, which stresses to unaffiliated voters that they can’t vote both the Democratic and Republican ballots they will receive for the June 26 primary. They have to pick just one ballot. If they vote two, neither will count.
The Webb group’s Josh Miller went all out. He ignored the colored markers in the UChoose box and bought paint. The result is a U with Denver’s logo, a tennis shoe and a shoelace.
After all, the story of Webb and his size-12 sneakers is a part of Colorado’s political history.
Out of money in his first race for mayor, Webb announced he would campaign on foot, spending the night in supporters’ houses as he traversed the city, traveling only by bus. The press corps, robust in those days, followed to see if Webb was keeping his word.
At the time, Webb was third in polls that gave him only 7 percent of the vote.
Webb went on to serve three terms as Denver mayor, and was succeeded in 2003 by brewmeister John Hickenlooper, who now is governor of Colorado — and who has yet to decorate his wooden U!
Since statehood, Colorado has always allowed members of the service to vote absentee during times of war.
A 1993 law requiring states to accept voter registrations by mail was a moot point in Colorado, which had adopted that feature in the 1940s.
Colorado has the highest percentage of registered voters in the nation, at 87 percent.
Hilary Rudy, the deputy elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State, ticked off example after example of Colorado’s unique voter history when she spoke Monday at History Colorado, which is offering a four-part “Election Time Machine” series.
“Colorado has always been a leader,” she said. “Colorado leads the way.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams urged high school students with Inspire Colorado to stay involved in democracy even after they graduate from high school.
He said they could volunteer with a campaign or march in a parade.
“You have a chance to continue to make a difference,” Williams said during Inspire Colorado’s awards dinner Sunday night at History Colorado. “That is my hope for you.”
It was the third time that Williams has addressed the group since its inception last year. The nonpartisan organization works with high school juniors and seniors to prepare them for the responsibility of voting as they began to reach eligibility, at age 18. Members do that by registering their fellow students to vote and doing get-out-the-vote efforts for elections.
The youth-led group recently hosted a candidate forum at History Colorado, where Williams also spoke.
At the dinner, attended by students and their families, Inspire Colorado handed out two Outstanding Inspired Leader Awards.
Eaglecrest High School junior Josh Rasp got almost 90 percent of the senior class to register to vote. Eaglecrest is in Centennial. Yuma High School senior Andrea Hermosillo got almost 95 percent.
Rasp attended the event with his parents and brother Jake and his girlfriend Kara Hancock.
Hermosillo attend with fellow Yuma students Navil Babonoyaba and Rubi Rodriguez. Both Hermosillo and Babonoyaba addressed the Inspire Colorado crowd.