Then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, is pictured with former secretaries of state Natalie Meyer and Donetta Davidson on Nov. 6, 2017. (Colorado Secretary of State website)
The Mesa County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted Monday to have former Secretary of State Wayne Williams supervise county elections.
The board had already approved a resolution establishing its intent to hire Williams, a Republican now serving in a nonpartisan elected role on Colorado Springs City Council. The vote Monday effectively ratifies Williams’ contract for the November 2021 election.
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Williams will oversee elections in place of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, a Republican whose office is under scrutiny in three separate investigations — by the secretary of state’s office, the 21st Judicial District attorney’s office and the FBI — over an alleged breach of election security protocols.
Also on Monday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit as part of an effort to prevent Peters from maintaining her authority over elections. The lawsuit requests the district court in Mesa County to appoint Williams the county’s designated election official.
During the commissioners’ Monday meeting, Mesa County Attorney Todd Starr explained that Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner — the person whom Griswold originally designated to oversee elections in place of Peters — would be working with Williams. Reiner and Williams have been instrumental in helping the county get new elections equipment certified in time for the November election, according to Commissioner Scott McInnis.
“The relationship between Wayne and Sheila has been working and is working great, to the benefit of voters of Mesa County,” Starr said. “Wayne is the oversight for the elections, and you might describe Sheila as being the boots on the ground for the day-to-day, for now. … We’re moving forward and preparing for a fair, safe and accurate election.”
The relationship between Wayne and Sheila has been working and is working great, to the benefit of voters of Mesa County.
– Mesa County Attorney Todd Starr, on Wayne Williams and Sheila Reiner overseeing elections
Griswold’s lawsuit asked the court to appoint Reiner election supervisor for the November election.
“I appreciate the confidence the Commissioners, the Secretary, and the Attorney General have shown,” Williams wrote to Newsline in a text. “The Mesa Elections team, Treasurer Reiner, and I will be working hard to deliver a transparent and fair election this fall for the citizens of Mesa County.”
In a letter attached to the board’s meeting agenda, Williams laid out the terms of the parties’ agreement. This includes the terms of payment.
“My standard legal rate is $400 per hour,” wrote Williams, who works part-time as an attorney. “Recognizing that much of the anticipated work will be for non-legal matters, the parties have agreed that my work as an election official, including as a designated election official, will be discounted to 45% of this rate, which is $180 per hour.”
Most costs related to the election will be paid by Mesa County, according to the terms dictated by Williams in his letter and agreed to by the county commissioners. The contract did not include a cost estimate, maximum cost or fixed cost for Williams’ services.
“As we have discussed, the fees and costs relating to this matter are not
predictable,” Williams wrote.
The contract also states that the county may be billed for additional expenses, including travel, and the occasional services of legal assistants “at a discounted rate of $50 per hour.”
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