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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 30, 20182min501

…The Secretary of State’s Office’s Julia Sunny, writing for Lynn Bartels’s blog, offers a solid and helpful overview of the many candidates and issues facing voters on local ballots across this vast state of ours this coming Tuesday. From setting up local broadband service to allowing retail pot sales (state law allows local opt-in/opt-out), to taxes and term limits, local issues run the gamut.

Here’s a smattering of the ballot issues up for grabs:

… Firestone, Frisco, Lake City, Limon, Lyons and Severance will ask their voters for authorization to move forward in providing broadband. …

… Naturita voters will decide whether to allow marijuana sales, manufacturing, testing or cultivation, as well as whether to implement a marijuana sales tax and/or excise tax. Berthoud is asking their voters if municipally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed to add retail sales. …

… Pagosa Springs voters will consider whether to impose term limits of two consecutive four-year terms, voters in Glendale will decide if their mayor and council members shall be limited to three consecutive four-year terms …

… Morrison and Palmer Lake voters will decide whether to move their regular town elections to November of even-numbered years. …

And of course there’s the usual bevy of tax issues, including a tobacco tax on the ballot in Basalt, a tax extension for the museum and street improvements in La Veta, the  extension of a tax for a family rec center in Cortez — the list goes on. And on.

That’s just scratching the surface; read Sunny’s full blog post for much more depth. Here’s the link again.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 3, 201811min662


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 2, 20183min2046

Out in Colorado’s vast rural reaches, finding a replacement for an experienced and knowledgeable county clerk ain’t easy. Unlike in the state’s metro areas, where there always seems to be a steady supply of upward-bound office seekers, there just aren’t that many people to begin with in farm and ranch communities in sparsely populated counties in the high country and the eastern plains.

Which helps explain why voters in a number of those counties have invoked their right to opt out of the state’s constitutional term limits. The law, which generally holds elected officials to two terms or eight years consecutively in office, makes it tough for some counties to fill key posts. So, they’ve let some officeholders stay on the job longer.

In some cases, a lot longer — as Colorado Secretary of State’s Office communications chief Lynn Bartels pointed out in a blog post earlier this week. Bartels notes how Crowley County Clerk Lucile Nichols, for example, began working in the Clerk & Recorder’s office as a staffer in 1972 and was first elected clerk in 1994. Bent County Clerk Patti Nickell has been in office for 32 years.

Colorado Counties Inc. keeps a rolling list of counties that have waived or extended term limits for clerks and other elected officials over the years. Crowley lifted limits for all elected officials in 1998; Bent did so for its assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, sheriff and treasurer in 1999.

Now, some of the longest-serving clerks are exercising term limits of their own: They’re retiring. Writes Bartels:

“…(W)hat 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.

It amounts to quite a brain drain. Bartels quotes Secretary of State Wayne Williams: “We are losing decades of experience.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 12, 201814min919

Give credit to Lynn Bartels at the Secretary of State's Office for introducing us to Hayle Johnson, the longtime clerk and recorder in north-central Colorado's rural Jackson County. After reading a blog post by Bartels about some of the unusual challenges Johnson faces in running a clerk's office in the middle of a place like North Park, we had to know more.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 12, 20185min1073
Chase Penry, the son of former state Sen. Josh Penry, and David Brophy, the son of former state Sen. Greg Brophy. (Photo courtesy Greg Brophy via Lynn Bartels / Secretary of State’s Office)

… and it’s actually their kids we’re talking about, not the dads; the dads remain birds of a political feather.

Thanks are in order (yet again) to Secretary of State’s Office messenger in chief Lynn Bartels for keeping us apprised of some truly fun tangents off of Colorado politics. Like the fact that the sons of two fellow Republican ex-state legislators, perpetual political animals and longtime allies — Josh Penry and Greg Brophy — are occasional adversaries in Denver-area prep basketball. Penry’s son Chase Penry plays for the Cherry High School’s Bruins; Brophy’s son David is on Arapahoe High School’s Warrior squad.

As Bartels noted on her blog the other day — and as some of us recall firsthand — it wasn’t all that long ago that the two strappin’ teens were wee tykes who at times would accompany their dads to the Capitol:

When they were little boys, they lived across the state from each other but occasionally played together at the state Capitol when their dads brought them to work.

Bartels even posted a couple of great pics of Chase, then 7, and David, then 3, when their dads sparred with Democrats at the Capitol.  Nowadays, the two 6-foot offspring are forces to be reckoned with in their own right.

David plays some serious defense for the Warriors:

…While Chase is perhaps even better known for his skills as a wide receiver on Cherry Creek’s football team:

Cherry Creek’s Chase Penry is wide open and making the most of it in a victory over Arapahoe High School. (9News / jacksactionshots.com)

Or course, both young men have athletic prowess in their genes. Chase’s dad Josh, whose political acumen and accomplishments long have been Wikipedia-worthy, was a standout on the gridiron. He was a star quarterback for the Mesa State (now Colorado Mesa University) Mavericks and was named the National Scholar Athlete of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association and the Burger King Corporation. David’s dad Greg, also Wiki-worthy, went to the Colorado state championships as a wrestler for Wray High School (in his hometown of the same name).

While the elder Penry represented the Grand Junction area during his time in the state House and Senate, and dad Brophy lived in Wray and represented a vast swath of the surrounding Eastern Plains — both men have since relocated their families to the Denver area. That certainly increased the odds their sons would cross paths. As Brophy told Bartels:

“It’s a small world after all … As a parent in sports, it really changes the nature of the game when you know and truly like the opposition kids. You want him to play well, but his team to lose!”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 5, 201811min554


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 30, 201811min641

More than 150 politicos of all stripes packed the historic Carriage House at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion in Denver Wednesday night for a session-opening shindig thrown by Colorado Politics. Republicans rubbed shoulders with Democrats, toasting the young political news website and the nearly 120-year-old publication it incorporated last year.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 24, 20182min473

…OK, so that’s not actually her new title; to be precise, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell is the new president of the Colorado County Clerks Association. It’s quite an honor considering she was chosen by her fellow clerks, who ensure the integrity of elections in each of Colorado’s counties. They keep the democratic process running smoothly at its most fundamental level.

Reports Lynn Bartels, the blogger at large, messaging manager and media contact (among her many duties) for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams:

Mitchell, who succeeds Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, took the oath of office on Jan. 18 at the clerk’s winter conference in Colorado Springs.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve the community where I grew up, and now I get to serve as president of the Colorado County Clerks Association,” Mitchell said. “This is the greatest group of people I have ever worked with. We always have our citizens in mind.

“We do good things.”

Mitchell, who was elected Chaffee county clerk and recorder in 2014, will serve a year at the helm of the state association, which advocates for the clerks statewide. According to its website, the organization, “supports best practices, use of technology and appropriate legislation through teamwork, communication and mutual respect.”

In other words, clerks are the folks who safeguard our right to vote.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 16, 20184min806

…Which is of course not to say the media maven and messaging manager for Secretary of State Wayne Williams was drinking an IPA when she penned an enlightening blog post the other day about the number of beer references in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State speeches over the years. But it’s probably safe to assume the guv and the onetime, longtime political reporter share an affinity for the original carbonated beverage.

In any event, Bartels informs us the term-limited Hickenlooper, who delivered his eighth and last State of the State last week as the legislature opened has in fact “mentioned beer in at least six of his eight State of the State speeches.” Whether it’s because the petroleum geologist turned beer baron turned politician can’t resist playing pitch man, or because he simply loves a cold beer — or maybe the two considerations are one and the same? — Hick has been serving up brews in speech after speech.

This year, Bartels notes, it involved the governor extolling his fellow Coloradans’ love of their state:

‘It’s the growling of tractors in Brush’s Fourth  of July parade. It’s the smell of barbecue at the little league ball fields in Sterling on a summer night. If you’ve seen a sunrise over the plains, drank a cold beer after a day of hunting, or consider “Rocktober” a real month, you’ve experienced it.’

And later in the same speech, Bartels writes:

He also talked how in ancient Greece, discussions about hot topics took place over large dinners and lasted days.  There was no ‘cable TV debate or tweet storm,’ different viewpoints emerged and people ‘invested their time in each other, often fueled by wine.’

‘Here in Colorado, we’ll stick with beer,’ he said….

Last year, it was:

‘Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts”– and beer.’

Political (and beer) junkies can read Bartels’s full blog post for every meticulously catalogued beer reference throughout his years of speechifying.  Here’s the link again.

Meanwhile, permit us to fine-tune the guv’s reference to the ancient Greeks. They did by all accounts love their wine, but according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, beer was the Greeks’ backup beverage:

From Egypt, beer traveled to Greece (as evidenced by the similarity of another of the Egyptian’s word for beer, zytum and the ancient Greek for the beverage, zythos). The Greeks, however, as the Romans after them, favored strong wine over beer and considered the grainy brew an inferior drink of barbarians.

Well, OK, but maybe today’s Colorado could have sated ancient Greek and Roman tastes with one of our marvelous merlots from the West Slope’s wine country. We’ve got it all.

No wonder everyone wants to move here.