Colorado will lose some of its longtime county clerks

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell, in her office in Las Animas, holds up the sugar cookies she made for Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Two of Colorado’s longest serving county clerks told Secretary of State Wayne Williams Monday their decision not to run for re-election this year is a bittersweet one.

“I have very mixed emotions,” said Crowley County Clerk Lucile Nichols, who began working in the Clerk & Recorder’s office in 1972 and was first elected clerk in 1994.

“I have enjoyed the job but it’s 45 years of a lifestyle coming to an end.”

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell has served as the clerk for 32 years. “It feels weird,” she said, of leaving. “It really does.”

A number of small and rural counties do not have term limits for clerks. Larger counties do so clerks turn over every four or eight years, but what makes 2018 unusual is the number of longtime clerks who are saying goodbye to registering vehicles, running elections, recording documents and many, many, more duties.

Others who are retiring after this year include Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, who will also have spent 43 years in the office, and Washington County Clerk Garland Wahl, who was first elected to the post in 1982.

“We are losing decades of experience,” Williams said.

Read moreColorado will lose some of its longtime county clerks

Bent County clerk: “I’m so proud to be from southern Colorado”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams enjoyed a rooftop view of Las Animas when he visited the Bent County clerk's office this week. From left to right: Commissioner Bill Long, commission candidate Jean Skkes, Secretary Williams, Clerk Patti Nickell, commission candidate Kim MacDonnell and county administrator Calvin Feik. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams enjoyed a rooftop view of Las Animas when he visited the Bent County clerk’s office this week. From left to right: Commissioner Bill Long, commission candidate Jean Sykes, Secretary Williams, Clerk Patti Nickell, commission candidate Kim MacDonnell and county administrator Calvin Feik. (SOS photo)

Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell and her crew braved an 18-month renovation of the courthouse, which meant no heat and at times no water.

“We got to be good friends with the Loaf ‘n Jug across the street,” she said, with a laugh.

The other courthouse operations were moved to different locations in Las Animas, but Nickell and her staff stayed put so it’s understandable how proud she is of Colorado’s oldest functioning courthouse and one so stunning it looks “Old Main” on some college campuses.

The $3.6 million renovation project that Nickell lived through won Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation in 2010.

Read moreBent County clerk: “I’m so proud to be from southern Colorado”

Williams says 24-hour drop boxes make it easier for Coloradans to vote

The addition of a 24-hour ballot drop box outside of Pueblo's Patrick Lucero Library excited neighborh kids, who jokingly asked Secretary of State Wayne Williams if they could vote. (SOS photo)
The addition of a 24-hour ballot drop box outside of Pueblo’s Patrick Lucero Library excited neighborhood kids, who jokingly asked Secretary of State Wayne Williams if they could vote. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams helped two county clerks on Wednesday celebrate the opening of ballot drop boxes in their communities, saying it’s another step in making it easier for Coloradans to vote.

Voters in Bent County received their ballots on Tuesday and Clerk Patti Nickell was tickled to see 12 ballots in the box by Wednesday morning. Bent County Commissioner Bill Long admitted that at first he couldn’t see why Nickell was so intent on getting the box until Williams explained that voters love the service because they can drop off their ballots after work or on a Sunday.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Bent County Clerk Patti Nickells examine the 24-hour ballot drop box that was recently installed outside the courthouse. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell examine the 24-hour ballot drop box that was recently installed outside the courthouse in Las Animas. (SOS photo)

“We hope to have another box next year in in the east end of the county, at McClave,” Nickell  said. “I’m so glad Wayne is pushing this.”

Nickell said another 16 ballots were in the box Thursday morning.

Pueblo County on Wednesday celebrated the opening of its fourth round-the-clock ballot drop box, at the Patrick A. Lucero Library on the city’s eastside.

“What the heck is this?” a young boy called out when he spied the big white metal box covered with decals. “This is for Pueblo?” another asked. And a third wanted to know whether Williams was supporting Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.

Read moreWilliams says 24-hour drop boxes make it easier for Coloradans to vote