Chaffee County: a cold wind and a hot city election

Salida voter Sandra Hobbs drops off her ballot Monday in the ballot drop box outside the Chaffee County clerk’s office. (SOS photo)

A  cold wind blew leaves across the Chaffee County courthouse lawn on Monday as Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell told Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams how Salida’s municipal election has voters fired up.

“There’s a difference of opinion on the direction the city should go,” Mitchell said,  noting each of the three ward races are contested as is the mayor’s race.

As if on cue, Salida resident Sandra Hobbs got out of her vehicle and walked up to the 24-hour ballot box located outside the courthouse.

“It’s been something else,” she said of the city election.

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Colorado election officials stand out at national conference

Colorado’s election officials racked up the awards at this year’s Election Center conference, which was held in California. From left to right: Arapahoe County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell, Denver Elections’ Amanda Beach, the voter records manager, Amber McReynolds, director of Denver Elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman and Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson.

By Lizzie Stephani

Colorado election officials shone at the Election Center’s 33rd national conference, winning several prestigious awards and gaining certification or re-certification as election administrators.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as well as members of various clerks’ offices,  attended the conference in Garden Grove, Calif., which ended Wednesday.

“Colorado’s county clerks have one of the highest participation rates in the Election Center and it was exciting to see Colorado’s clerks win awards and their staffers graduate at this year’s national conference,” Williams said. “Colorado won three of the 10 awards that were handed out.”

El Paso and Denver counties, and the Colorado County Clerks Association were recognized for their work in serving their voters with professional best practices.

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Secretary Williams addresses county clerks, pledges support

Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Huerfano County Clerk Nancy Cruz and Baca County Clerk Sharon Dubois. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Huerfano County Clerk Nancy Cruz and Baca County Clerk Sharon Dubois at the Colorado County Clerks Association winter conference in Colorado Springs. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams received a round of applause from county clerks and their staffs when he said he opposed the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to classify election systems as “critical infrastructure.”

“While we appreciate the support and the assistance we receive, I join many secretaries of state in saying that is not something the federal government needs to take over,” Williams said, in his his address to the Colorado County Clerks Association at its winter conference in Colorado Springs last week.

Denver Clerk Deb Johnson and Gary Zimmerman, chief of staff for the Colorado Secretary of State's office. (SOS photo)
Denver Clerk Deb Johnson and Gary Zimmerman, chief of staff for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams received a round of applause from county clerks and their staffs when he said he opposed the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to classify
He referred to a DHS decision in the waning days of President Obama’s administration because of security concerns over elections.

The secretary discussed a variety of topics, from 24-hour ballot boxes to repeated hacking claims raised during the 2016 election to two voter initiatives that will change how Colorado conducts primary elections and presidential primary elections. He urged clerks to keep in touch with their lawmakers, as elections issues will be debated during the ongoing session.

“We will continue to provide the support you need to make sure your elections go off well,” Williams said. “That’s my commitment to you as your secretary.”

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Logan County’s Pam Bacon to lead county clerks association

The clerks who are about to be sworn in as members of the Colorado County Clerks Association board enjoy a light-hearted moment. They are, left to right, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, president elect; Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane; past president; Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, treasurer; Adams County Clerk Stan Martin, vice president; Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, secretary; Park County Clerk Deb Green, Southern region chair; Lincoln County Clerk Corinne Lengel, Eastern region chair; and El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman, Central regional chair. (SOS photo)
The clerks who are about to be sworn in as members of the Colorado County Clerks Association board enjoy a light-hearted moment. They are, left to right, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, Adams County Clerk Stan Martin, Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, Park County Clerk Deb Green, Lincoln County Clerk Corinne Lengel and El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman. (SOS photo)

Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon will lead the Colorado County Clerks Association for the year, assisted by fellow clerks who will serve on CCCA board.

She took the oath of office from her predecessor, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, at the association’s winter conference in Colorado Springs last week.

Arapahoe County Matt Crane, right, administers the oath of office to Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon. (SOS photo)
Arapahoe County Matt Crane, right, administers the oath of office to Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon. (SOS photo)

“I accept the position of president of the CCCA with humility because I am sure it is not an easy task and I am certain that despite my best efforts, I will disappoint some of you sometimes,” Bacon said in her acceptance speech.

“My door is always open and I am only a phone call or e-mail away so feel free to reach out to me,” she said. “I recently told a clerk that we are all on the same team just in different zip codes and I do believe that. Our association is great at lending that helping hand or ear to a fellow clerk but we have to know your dilemma before we can extend that help.”

Bacon’s presidency comes as clerks and the legislature grapple with the implementation of two election-related ballot measures that voters passed in November.

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The three Rs for Colorado’s county clerks

The Colorado County Clerks Association winter conference kicked off Wednesday in Colorado Springs. From left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, CCCA director Pam Anderson, Pueblo County Clerk Bo Ortiz and Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon. (SOS photo)
The Colorado County Clerks Association winter conference kicked off Wednesday in Colorado Springs. From left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, CCCA director Pam Anderson, Pueblo County Clerk Bo Ortiz and Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon. (SOS photo)

After the year Colorado’s county clerks had in 2016, it’s no wonder they chose this theme for their winter conference underway in Colorado Springs: “Rejuvenate. Recharge. Relax.”

In between seminars on the US Postal Service and mail ballots, Motor Vehicle operations and electronic recordings, clerks and their staffs could take part in a social painting class, a nature walk at Garden of the Gods and yoga.

Darryl Glenn, chairman of the El Paso County Board of Commissioners and the GOP’s U.S. Senate nominee last year, acknowledged the hard work of Colorado’s 64 county clerks.

“I don’t think you guys receive enough praise,” he said Wednesday when he welcomed the clerks and their staffs.

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