Three months after being sworn in, Secretary of State Wayne Williams has mostly stayed out of the news, and that’s the way he likes it. It’s a marked contrast from Williams’s predecessor, fellow Republican Scott Gessler, an election law attorney who embraced the nickname “honey badger,” a varmint known for the relentlessness of its attack. Where Gessler seemingly courted controversy — and was the target of one complaint after another from Democrats — Williams is taking a more conciliatory approach, working closely with county clerks across the state and stressing his office’s mission providing services to voters, businesses and nonprofit groups. “The role, once you’re in there, isn’t about which party you’re in, it’s how you serve the citizens,” Williams said in an interview with The Colorado Statesman. “There are some things I might do differently than another individual, but I try to work very hard to make sure this government office operates the way we would if we were trying to attract customers.”
The reviews of Williams have been glowing from officials and activists alike, including some who routinely clashed with Gessler at nearly every turn. “Wayne is trying to mend a lot of the broken relationships that happened in the previous administration between the clerks and the secretary of state’s office,” said Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson, a Democrat. “More important, though, is how he is listening to what the clerks need,” she said, adding that she has “great conversations, a great working relationship” with Williams.
Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, a Republican, sounded a similar note. “Wayne has really made an effort to rebuild the relationship between the secretary’s office and the clerks,” he said. “It has to be a partnership between the clerks and the secretary, and I think that’s been lost over the last few years.” Williams, Crane said, is taking a collaborative approach when it comes to drafting legislation and rules, working to “come up with solutions that make sense for everybody.”