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.
Here’s Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ version of spring break: Visited nine county clerks. Checked out five newspaper offices. Attended three Go Code Colorado competitions. Spoke at one Club 20 event.
That night, Williams ate dinner in Durango with La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker — he visited her office Friday afternoon, too — and by the next morning he was ready to hit the road to talk with three other county clerks.
“Last year I met with all the new county clerks in their offices and this year and I am continuing to go meet with county clerks,” Williams said. “By going to their offices I get a better understanding of their set-ups and their challenges to ensure we are helping meet their needs.”
Colorado’s hard-working county clerks traded tips on what works — and what might not — during their winter conference this week in Fort Collins.
The Colorado County Clerks Association’s conference offered clerks and their staffs the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops on topics ranging from motor vehicle registrations, the November election and communication best-practices.
“We’re a small county,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod. “We really need to think outside the box and you get ideas to do that at this conference.”
Secretary of State Wayne Williams attended the three-day event.
“Both I and my staff welcomed the opportunity to share best practices and legal requirements with our county partners,” Williams said. “And I enjoyed seeing so many of my friends. If I had to be away from family for my birthday, there’s no finer group to be with.”
Williams turned 53 on Tuesday. Clerks serenaded Williams after Pam Anderson, the executive director of the association, presented the secretary with a cupcake.
Williams talked to the clerks about his decision to go with vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which was the No. 1 choice of a committee studying voting systems. And he announced Wednesday that the state will use federal Help America Vote Act funds to cover 50 percent of a county’s costs to train, test, install and manage the project this year and next.
Gunnison County is one of more than 20 counties that will be switching to Denver-based Dominion this year.
Chief Deputy Clerk Diane Folowell said she spent a “considerable amount of time” meeting with Dominion, one of the many vendors that had a booth set up at the conference.
Gunnison Clerk Kathy Simillion said learning about the equipment was “just part of it.”
“I also enjoy the camaraderie and learning ideas from other clerks,” she said.
For several clerks, it was a chance to meet for the first time the secretary of state staffers they have talk to on the phone on a regular basis.
The conference also saw the changing of the guard, with Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane taking over for La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker as president. Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon is the president elect, while Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell was sworn in as vice president.
Former Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle was named an honorary lifetime clerk. He was introduced by his successor, Clerk Angela Myers.
“I look out upon this room and see lots of hardworking clerks. The work you do is challenging, but it is extremely important and the basis of our free society,” Doyle said.
After the banquet, clerks and their staffs competed in a hilarious lip-sync contest. Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes and staffers took top prize for for their rendition of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
Williams and his staff, along with Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, performed “Under Pressure.” They got a good laugh when they were introduced as “Lil’ Wayne and the Hanging Chads.”