La Plata elections director wins county clerks’ award

With county clerks standing behind her, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker reads her letter nominating her elections director, Erin Hutchins, for an award from the Colorado County Clerks Association. (SOS photo)

The Colorado County Clerks Association today honored an elections administrator known to greet challenging tasks with an “OK boss, we’ve got this” mantra.

Erin Hutchins was nominated for the Michelle Burton Excellence in Elections Service Award by her boss, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker.

“Erin’s passion for elections is profound. She loves the challenge and is always willing to take on more,” Parker wrote in her nominating letter to Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, president of the clerks association.

Erin Hutchins.

The award honors “those who demonstrate love and extra devotion to the election process.” The other finalists were from Weld and Larimer counties.

“This year we are implementing a new recording system, election system and redistricting,” Parker wrote. “Erin is involved with all of these projects. She never complains about working additional hours or skipping lunch. She will say, ‘OK boss, we’ve got this!'”

The presentation was made at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s summer conference in Snowmass Village, which ends Wednesday.

An emotional Parker accepted the award for Hutchins, who was too busy to attend the conference.

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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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$52 per vote? County clerks explore changing early-voting requirements

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, including from left to right Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, from left to right, Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Behind Moreno is Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks want some leeway when it comes to providing early-voting locations during general elections because of costs, the turnout and the difficulty in securing locations and judges.

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane said the data suggests the first week could be eliminated – his county spent $52 per vote over those six days. But he said one option for Arapahoe might be reducing locations for that first week from 11 to just the clerk’s office and the four Motor Vehicle offices.

Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party and a commission member, opposed the reductions.

“We saw two- and three-hour lines (on Election Day),” she said. “Let’s not forget that.”

The discussion about polling centers was the lone topic of discussion Tuesday at the fourth meeting of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission, which was created by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with support from legislators and others concerned with elections. The goal of the commission is to come up with solutions to fix election problems identified by Williams, his staff and others.

Williams told the group that he believes the data “clearly shows” that the present number of sites is excessive, but he doesn’t think the first week should be eliminated.

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Garland Wahl, going out of her way for Washington County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Washington County clerk's office in Akron. Behind him is Brandy Ward, Clerk Garland Wahl and Esther Weis. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Washington County clerk’s office in Akron. Behind him is Brandy Ward, Clerk Garland Wahl and Esther Weis. (SOS photo)

Garland Wahl was elected to her first term as Washington County clerk and recorder in 1982. She ran again four years later and won, and just kept running and winning.

“One term just went into another,” the 72-year-old Wahl said Thursday, after Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited her at her office in Akron.

“I work for the citizens of Washington County. That’s something I’ve tried never to forget. I try to go out of my way for them,” Wahl said, adding she once drove a ballot to a Greeley hospital so a resident could vote.

Other county clerks have high praise for Wahl. “Such a great mentor,” Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey wrote on Facebook Thursday.

Read moreGarland Wahl, going out of her way for Washington County