Bye-bye with a bang in Saguache County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Saguache County Clerk’s office, with Clerk Carla Gomez and staffers Jane Whitten and future clerk Trish Gilbert during a visit in 2016. (SOS photo/Chris Johnson)

Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez, who is retiring early after serving six years in office, sure is going out with a bang.

The night before Election Day, the Saguache post office was burglarized. The post office was then closed the next day, which could have prevented Gomez from collecting mail-in ballots. Secretary of State Wayne Williams was prepared to extend the  7 p.m.  Nov. 7 deadline, but it wasn’t needed and the election concluded successfully.

Gomez said she is going to miss her co-workers and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a man she so admires she made him the star of her office Christmas card this year.

“He’s done so much for the county and we just have to acknowledge that,” the outgoing clerk said. “We appreciate him and how patient he has been with us.”

She and Williams have a history.

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Custer County’s contentious election

How big was that ballot? Custer County Clerk Kelley Camper and Secretary of State Wayne Williams enjoy a light-hearted moment during a tour of the polling center Friday in Westcliffe. (SOS photo)

The voter turnout in Custer County will likely end up one of the highest in the state, fueled by an attempt to recall the three county commissioners and a measure to enact building codes countywide.

So far the turnout has hit 48 percent for the election, with ballots due by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“There’s just a lot of interest,” Clerk and Recorder Kelley Camper said told Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during his visit Friday to Westcliffe. He earlier that day visited clerks in Las Animas and Huerfano counties.

Camper told Williams she was on the phone with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office quite a bit over the summer and fall, boning up on rules for a recall election. Williams is very familiar with those rules: When he served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder he oversaw several recall elections, including the recall of the state Senate president in 2013 over the Democrat’s support for tougher gun laws.

The Take Back Custer County Recall Committee is attempting to recall commissioners Bob Kattnig, Donna Hood and Jay Printz, all Republicans, alleging violation of public meeting laws.

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Williams returns to Saguache County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Saguache County Clerk's office, with Clerk Carla Gomez and staffers Jane Whitten and Trish Gilbert. (SOS photo/Chris Johnson)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Saguache County Clerk’s office, with Clerk Carla Gomez and staffers Jane Whitten and Trish Gilbert. (SOS photo/Chris Johnson)

What do you do when your experienced elections director resigns in July and you need lots of help for November?

If you’re Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez you rely heavily on the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Gomez repeatedly praised the SOS elections staff when Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his administrative assistant, Chris Johnson, visited her and her three staffers Friday in Saguache.

“We were very glad to see him in this remote location, especially that he would visit during the busy election season,” she said.

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