For now, the “bulletproof” congressman

Today's headline in The Denver Post after the congressman's successful re-election on Tuesday.
Today’s headline in The Denver Post after the congressman’s successful re-election on Tuesday.

Two years ago I interviewed an African immigrant who told me an interesting story about Congressman Mike Coffman.

It turns out the young man was quite upset when he opened his ballot and saw Democrat Diana DeGette and Republican Martin Walsh on the ballot.

He made inquiries. Where is my ballot with Republican Mike Coffman’s name? That’s when he learned he lived in Denver-based Congressional District 1 and not Aurora-based Congressional District 6.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.
Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.

I’ve thought of that interview many times in recent days as Arapahoe County Democrats outpaced Republicans in ballot returns. Sure, it was great for local Democrats but would it be great for Coffman’s challenger, Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll?

She became the third Democrat in a row to lose to Coffman since the 6th CD was redrawn to make what had been a conservative district a competitive one.

“Is Mike Coffman invincible?” the headline in today’s Sunday Denver Post asked.

Results from the Arapahoe County election website provide a fascinating glimpse of a swing county that for the most part went blue.

Read moreFor now, the “bulletproof” congressman

Douglas County program: “A shining example to the rest of the state”

Douglas County Clerk Melvin Klotz, his predecessor, Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County elections director Sheri Davis, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Douglas County School Board President Meghann Silverthorn at a board work session Tuesday night in Castle Rock. The election officials presented the board with an award for allowing high schools to partner with elections. (SOS photo)
Douglas County Clerk Melvin Klotz, his predecessor, Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County elections director Sheri Davis, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Douglas County School Board President Meghann Silverthorn at a board work session Tuesday night in Castle Rock. The election officials presented the board with an award for allowing high schools to partner with elections. (SOS photo)

The Douglas County School District’s impressive program that uses high schools as voting centers and students as election judges grew out of frustration with the 2006 election.

That year, voters in Douglas — and Denver County — stood in long lines for hours or skipped voting.

Jack Arrowsmith, sworn in as Douglas County clerk and recorder in 2007, said a review of what went wrong determined in part the county needed better polling locations and a variety of election judges.

“Sometimes out of adversity, really good things happen,” Arrowsmith told the Douglas County Board of Education at its work study session Tuesday night.

Arrowsmith was part of a delegation of officials that presented the Board of Education with a NASS Medallion award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for “its leadership and determination in making available facilities for polling places.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the board that one county clerk wanted to install a ballot drop box outside a state-owned community college, but was turned way.

“They response they got was, ‘That’s not part of our mission,’” he said. “So I’m here to say, ‘Thank you for recognizing it is part of your mission.’”

Read moreDouglas County program: “A shining example to the rest of the state”

The evolution of Maria Elena Ramirez

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with staffer Maria Ramirez, who is retiring effective Oct. 31. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams with staffer Maria Elena Ramirez, who is retiring effective Oct. 31. (SOS photo)

Maria Elena Ramirez was, in her own words, “a welfare mom” who lived in public housing and received food stamps and a variety of other government benefits.

Until one day when she decided it was time to go in a different direction. She applied for a job with the state of Colorado, and interviewed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on July 14, 1999.

That was the same day Secretary of State Vikki Buckley, another welfare mom who worked herself out of poverty, died of a heart attack.

Ramirez began working for the Secretary of State on  Aug. 2, 1999.

“I learned I could support me and my kids,” Ramirez said. “I became independent.”

Countless calls — and six secretaries of state later — she is calling it quits. Today is her last day. Ramirez has four children, ages 31 to 24, and five grandchildren, but she’s not stepping down to spend more time with them, at least not right away.

“I turned 50 last year,” she said. “It’s time to do something for me. So I’m heading to the East Coast.”

Read moreThe evolution of Maria Elena Ramirez

Colorado’s new world ballot order

My name is Madeline Gallagher, I am a senior at Fountain Valley School of Colorado. I am curious about why the names on the ballot are in their particular order.

Democrat Alice Madden
Democrat Alice Madden
Republican Heidi Ganahl.
Republican Heidi Ganahl

Madeline isn’t the only person to ask why Hillary Clinton’s name is ahead of Donald Trump’s in the list of candidates for president on Colorado’s ballot — or why their names are before Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Or why U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s name comes before his Republican challenger, Darryl Glenn, but in the 6th Congressional District, the incumbent, Republican Mike Coffman, is listed after his Democratic challenger, Morgan Carroll.

My government teacher was unable to answer, but, by asking I piqued his curiosity and my fellow classmates’ as well. My research has not lead me to an answer, but it did lead me to the Colorado Secretary of State website.

 Madeline, the answer has to do with the alphabet and luck. I learned about this system when a political consultant last month asked about the statewide race for the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Was there a reason Democrat Alice Madden’s name was ahead of Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl’s? When I asked ballot access manager Joel Albin, I found out yes, there was a reason. Madden’s name was drawn first.

Read moreColorado’s new world ballot order

Kathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

By Julia Sunny and Lynn Bartels

When Kathy Packer started working at the age of 18, Dick Lamm was governor of Colorado, Federico Peña was mayor of Denver and Secretary of State Natalie Meyer was her boss.

Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State's office since she was 18. She is retiring effective today. (SOS picture)
Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office since she was 18.

“Natalie was a very classy, professional lady, always very poised and put together,” Packer recalled.

Packer would go on to work for seven more secretaries of state, including the current officeholder, Wayne Williams, before deciding to call it quits.

Her last day was today, June 30. Her co-workers held a party to celebrate her 31½-year-career in state government, all at the Secretary of State’s office.

“She’s a people person, which means she has a customer-centric approach,” said Trevor Timmons, the director of information technology, where Packer has worked in recent years. “She is awesome.”

Read moreKathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State