As Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams prepares to leave office next month, he said he’s considering a run for an at-large seat on the Colorado Springs City Council.
Williams, a Republican, was first elected to the state office in 2014 after serving a single term as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder and two terms as an El Paso County commissioner. He lost his seat last month to Democratic political newcomer Jena Griswold by eight percentage points.
Now, Williams told The Gazette, he’s still hunting for a job, and possibly one that could mesh with a life on the council.
“I’ve got to find out first if they’d be OK with five days a month out of the office,” Williams said.
That’s roughly how often the council meets: two work sessions, two regular meetings and then another meeting as the Colorado Springs Utilities board of directors.
The city’s election is in April. All three at-large seats are up for grabs, as is Mayor John Suthers’ seat.
Williams, his wife and two sons remained in Colorado Springs even after he was elected to the statewide office. He said that detail shows just how much he loves the community.
Some candidates — including two at-large incumbents — have already announced their intent to run for the office, but Williams said he still has time to make up his mind. His experience within the county as well as widespread name recognition from his time as secretary of state gives him an advantage others won’t enjoy, he said.
First he needs to find a job and then he can determine whether a council run is viable, Williams said.
Knocking on doors during his first campaign for the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, Williams said the overwhelming sentiment he heard was a desire for the county to work better with Colorado Springs.
If he runs and is elected, Williams would be in a unique position to bolster that partnership because his wife, Holly Williams, will have a seat on the county board. She was elected the same day Williams lost to Griswold.
Over their 32 years together, Williams said he and his wife largely have aligned on political issues and candidates. Sometimes, however, they disagree and neither has had a problem voicing their differing views.
“I literally sued my own wife as a county commissioner,” Williams laughed.
That lawsuit was filed over an eminent-domain issue with then-Gov. Bill Owens, Williams said. Holly Williams, who was El Paso County’s public trustee at the time, was named in the suit.
Realistically, Williams said he doesn’t see any immediate conflicts of interest with his wife on the county board. He would represent the whole of Colorado Springs while she would represent a northern swath of the county that includes Black Forest and part of Monument.
If an issue came up that involved his wife specifically, Williams said he would have no problem recusing himself.
But first he’d need to win an at-large seat in what is expected to be a crowded field.
Current at-large councilmen Tom Strand and Bill Murray have said they plan to run for re-election. The third at-large councilman, Merv Bennett, is term-limited.
Strand and Murray will be joined on the ballot by Val Snider, a former at-large councilman who served one term from 2011 to 2015, and Tony Gioia, an Army veteran and former El Paso County planning commissioner.
Terry Martinez, former principal of Will Rogers Elementary School, also said he is “getting a team together” for a possible bid.
At this point candidates can only declare their intent to run. They have to wait until early January to officially announce their candidacy. To make the ballot, each candidate must submit the valid signatures of 100 Colorado Springs voters.