Thankful thoughts this Thanksgiving

Local, state and federal election officials as well as election activists and observers, gather for a group shot at the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s election warehouse on Nov. 17, 2017. The participants, including Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Arapahoe Clerk Matt Crane, helped pull ballots in preparation for the county’s ballot tabulation. (Arapahoe County photo)

Here is what some of the SOS staffers what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Family and friends topped the list, but here are some of the more creative responses-

• “I’m thankful for my job, I JUST LOVE IT!!  It allows me to work with a lot of veterans as well as community members.  Cannot be thankful enough to the veterans for serving our country.” Darleen Herrera, charitable gaming investigator.

Catherine Hill’s granddaughter, L.C. Cassandra. L.C. means Love Child. Her right kidney was removed in May 2016 because of a tumor taking 70 percent of it. She had 13 chemo treatments.

• “I am thankful for the opportunity to go visit family and to have family visit us. I am also thankful that the risk-limiting audit has proceeded in a fashion that neither we nor the clerks have to work on Thanksgiving.” Wayne Williams, secretary of state.

• “Just living! My 5-year-old granddaughter has been cancer-free for a year!” Catherine Hill, elections administrative assistant.

• “I am thankful to be able to work in an office that has so many kind and generous people, and which is located in a state that makes every day a good and different day.” Chris Johnson, executive administrative assistant.

• “I’m thankful for the passage of time…without which our restrooms would have never seen completion…without which we would be forever doomed to endure multiple daily journeys to the second floor….LOL, I think I am probably speaking for a LOT of people in my thankfulness!” Myra Rooney, campaign finance specialist.

• “I’m thankful that my parents left South Florida to start their family in Colorado, so I had the Rocky Mountains as my playground and not the Everglades.” Chris Cash, charities program manager.

• “I am thankful for my boss, Wayne.” Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state.

Lynn Bartels’ response might be my favorite of all –

Dwight Shellman, SOS county support manager, with all his essentials for the first statewide risk-limiting audit. (SOS photo)

• “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it involves food but no gift-buying. Last year, I posted on the SOS blog a column I wrote about Thanksgiving in 1991 when I was working as a columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune.

I have plenty to be thankful for but this year I’m especially grateful for Dwight Shellman, the Secretary of State’s county support manager.

Dwight is our chain-smoking, coffee-swilling, loveable attention-to-detail guy who has been such an integral part of the risk-limiting audit our office and Colorado’s county clerks just conducted to show that the election results were accurate.

The post-election audit attracted election folks from across the country, which only added to Dwight’s 24-hour state of stress. Another SOS staffer, Ben Schler, once joked that if Dwight managed a Pizza Hut he would be outside by the dumpster on Super Bowl Sunday, smoking and muttering, “I just know we’re going to run out of dough. I just know we’re going to run out of dough.”

Even if we hadn’t done a risk-limiting audit this year, I would still be just as grateful for Dwight. As the former elections director for Pitkin County, he knows what it takes to run an election – hence his devotion to our county clerks and their staffs.

Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humor, something to be thankful for in any person.

Enjoy Thanksgiving, dear readers!”

How casual day for the Arapahoe County clerk’s office paid off

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, the third person holding the check, and his staffers present a check to the Wounded Warrior Project . (Arapahoe County photo)

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane put a new twist on casual day at his office.

Every Wednesday, Crane and his employees each pay $1 if they want to wear jeans. The clerk’s office began the jean fundraising project in 2013 with a $5,000 goal. The goal was exceeded in 2016, but with the presidential election taking over much of Crane’s time, the donation was postponed, allowing even more money being raised.

Last Friday, staffers presented a $7,172 check to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that, according to its  website, “Serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.”

“It was an honor to give back to the men and women in our Armed Forces who have fought and sacrificed for our life and liberty,” said Crane. “Employees loved this charitable opportunity. By paying a dollar to dress down, they enjoyed a comfortable workday and their small contributions over time added up to a significant donation for this deserving organization.”

Next up for Arapahoe County? To keep casual Wednesdays going to meet another $5,000 goal. This time, the charity will be Freedom Service Dogs, an organization that rescues, trains and places dogs with people with disabilities.

Julia Sunny is the social media coordinator for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Mexico delegation looks to Secretary of State’s office for information

Colorado election officials met Friday with a three Mexican senators and others to talk about anti-corruption efforts and transparency. Left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane; Trevor Timmons, IT director for the Secretary of State; Sen. Martha Angelica Tagle Martinez; Colorado political consultant Sean Walsh; Sen. Maria Marcella Torres Peimbert; SOS elections director Judd Choate; and Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel. (SOS photo)
Colorado election officials met Friday with a three Mexican senators and others to talk about anti-corruption efforts and transparency. Left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane; Trevor Timmons, IT director for the Secretary of State; Sen. Martha Angelica Tagle Martinez; Colorado political consultant Sean Walsh; Sen. Maria Marcella Torres Peimbert; SOS elections director Judd Choate; and Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel. (SOS photo)

Three state senators from Mexico – including one who introduced the country’s first tamper-proof voter identification cards when he was a governor – learned about transparency and bi-partisanship when they visited the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

All three are working on anti-corruption policies in their country, and were interested in the contention from SOS officials that while voter fraud does happen, it is rare and that Colorado has taken important steps to try to ensure election integrity. They also wanted to know how Colorado elections work.

“To vote is your right, but there is no restriction not to vote?” asked Sen. Maria Marcela Torres Peimbert.

Elections director Judd Choate told her she was correct, and added that Colorado has a high voter turnout, in part because the state is almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. He also said registration can be done online.

“That’s fantastic,” said Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel.

After the visit, he said he was worried about relations between his country and the United States. If there are problems, he said, it could devastate both economies.

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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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