Sunday, November 22, 2009

Women working to win the West and our role in the Republican realm

A few weeks ago, I was afforded the opportunity to speak at the Colorado Federation of Republican Women (CFRW) annual conference and presented a welcome address to several hundred attendees. I believed it was important to welcome them to El Paso County and to also emphasize the role Republican women have played in Colorado politics.  (Photo right: 2009 CFRW convention in Colorado Springs)

First, I never expected nearly ten years ago when I became involved in a local neighborhood fight to save a fire station, that I’d be standing before a group of distinguished ladies as a past city councilwoman and the vice chair of the El Paso County Commissioners. Our county of El Paso was formed in 1861 and in all those years, only five women have served on the Board of Commissioners in almost 150 years. As the third woman to have been elected as chair of the board (serving in 2006), I join the ranks of previous board chairs including Jeri Howells (now Mayor of Fountain) and Marcy Morrison (Colorado's current Insurance Commissioner, and past state representative and mayor of Manitou Springs). I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of other local women like these, in order to serve El Paso County government and to pave the way for others to follow.  Today, I now serve with Commissioner Amy Lathen, who was first appointed to a vacant seat and then elected in 2008 as the fifth woman to serve on the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.

Colorado has a rich history and has been a front-runner in placing women into elected office.  In 1929, the first woman city council member, Edith C. Bramhall, was elected to the Colorado Springs City Council, just nine years after the 19th amendment was ratified to allow us women the right to vote.

Women gained the right to vote in Colorado through a Constitutional amendment passed by the people of Colorado during a general election on Nov. 7, 1893. This is 27 years before women had the right to vote nationally. The rallying cry of, “Let the women vote! They can’t do any worse than the men have!” was heard from Denver to Durango by disgruntled unemployed male voters: miners, farmers, ranchers, factory workers and businessmen, who were unhappy with the current government policies. 
Colorado also became the first state in the union to approve women’s suffrage in a popular election and amazingly, Colorado women voted and ran for office a quarter century before the 19th Amendment made women's suffrage the law of the land in 1920.

Some general historical notes:

El Paso was one of the original 17 counties in the state of Colorado, being #6 with the county seat in Colorado City.  There are currently over 50 elected women county commissioners in the state of Colorado with approximately half of those being elected as Republicans.

According to the National Association of Republican Women, in the 2009 Congress, 93 of the 535 seats in Congress are held by women. Of these, 17 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate (four Republicans) and 76 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (17 Republicans) are held by women legislators.

In the 2009 Colorado State Legislature, 39 women currently serve. Among these women, nine are Republicans. Lola Spradley was the first female speaker of the House.  Worth noting is that Colorado was the first state to elect women to a state legislature. Three Republican women were elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1894 and took office in 1895. Surprisingly, this was prior to the statewide allowance for women having the right to vote in the state. They were elected prior to being able to vote for themselves!

At a recent women's leadership conference held in Denver and hosted by the Republican National Committee, the theme was "Women Winning the West",  stressing the significance of women in government leadership and mentoring for others.  This conference focused on the importance of women to step forward and assume policy-making roles in our government, including running for office or supporting others who seek elected positions. It takes a lot to step forward, just ask women like Sarah Palin, Laura Bush, Jane Norton, and others who have put themselves into the political limelight. And while our male counterparts certainly live in a fishbowl of sorts, it's no secret that the focus on women in politics can frequently take a more personal turn, including the scrutiny of appearance and family relationships, among others.  (Photo right: 2009 CFRW annual convention, Colorado Springs)

That being said, I'm pleased to note that in Colorado, our state has been at the forefront of women in politics.  And, here are just some of groundbreaking women accomplishments that I presented at the CFRW conference:

1894: Statewide - On November 6, the first three women ever elected to a state legislature in the United States were elected to the Colorado General Assembly. They were Clara Cressingham, R-Arapahoe County; Carrie Holly, R-Pueblo County; and Frances Klock, R-Arapahoe County.

1924: Bertha K. Landes, Republican city council president at the time, became acting mayor of Seattle, the first woman to lead a major American city. Two years later she was elected mayor in her own right in a campaign run by women.

1933: Minnie Davenport Craig (R-ND) became the first woman to hold the position of speaker of the House in a state legislature.

1955: Consuelo Bailey, a Vermont Republican, became the first woman ever elected lieutenant governor of a state. In that role, she served as president of the state Senate. Since, she had previously served as speaker of the state House of Representatives, thus becoming the only woman in the country ever to preside over both chambers of a state legislature.

1964: Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican, was nominated for the presidency by Vermont Senator George Aiken at the Republican national convention. Smith had campaigned briefly for the post, limiting herself to periods when the Senate was not in session. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1940 (to replace her dying husband) and the Senate in 1948, Smith had already made history by becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.

1978: Nancy Landon Kassebaum, a Kansas Republican, was elected to the United States Senate. Prior to her election, all of the women who served in the Senate had succeeded their husbands in Congress or had first been appointed to fill out unexpired terms.

1984: Congresswoman Lynn Morley Martin (R-IL) was elected to the first of two terms as vice chair of the Republican Conference in the House, the first time a woman held an elected position in the congressional party's hierarchy.

1987: Kay Orr, a Republican from Nebraska, was the first Republican woman elected governor of a state, as well as the first woman to defeat another woman in a gubernatorial race.

1987: Jan Faiks, a Republican from Alaska, became the first woman to hold the position of president of a state senate (1987-1988).

2001: Condoleezza Rice became the first woman to hold the post of National Security Advisor (formally known as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) when she was appointed by President George W. Bush.

2001: Elaine Chao became the first Asian-American woman to serve in a presidential cabinet when she was appointed Secretary of Labor by President George W.Bush.

2001: Colorado's own Gale Norton became the first woman to serve as Secretary of the Interior, appointed by President George W. Bush. Norton was the first woman elected as Colorado's Attorney General and served that position for two terms.  

2001: Ann Veneman was appointed by President George W. Bush to be the first female Secretary of Agriculture. She had previously been the first woman to serve as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

2007: Dana Marie Perino (born May 9, 1972) served as the White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush from September 14, 2007 to January 20, 2009. She was the second female White House Press Secretary. Among her positions, she worked for U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, now a candidate for Governor of Colorado.
(Photo from right: Sallie Clark, Marla Crane, Dana Perino, Cami Grebel-Bremer, Alissa Bohall, Clarissa Arellano at Women Winning the West conference sponsored by the RNC)

These are just a few examples of groundbreaking events for women in politics. And ladies, while we have a long way to go, we are on the road to playing major political leadership roles in our communities. From school boards to city councils, county commissions to the state legislature, in the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate, or by serving on other community boards and commissions, the path to leadership has been paved for us by women who have come before.  As we head into the 2010 election season, new opportunities exist for women to work with, participate and collaborate with our male counterparts to accomplish great things as a team effort.

(Photo from right: Arapahoe County Commissioner Susan Beckman, Colorado Rep. Marsha Looper, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark at Women Winning the West Conference sponsored by the RNC)

Whether your interest is directed toward serving in political office or getting involved in your community, El Paso County is committed to citizen involvement. For more information about serving on a board or commission, visit our El Paso County website and click on Volunteer Boards.

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the U.S. to become a physician, appropriately stated, “For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

El Paso County, Colorado announces Rx discount program for citizens

EXCITING NEWS FOR EL PASO COUNTY, CO RESIDENTS - Rx discounts provided for citizens

On Wed. July 1, 2009, El Paso County will launch a new Prescription Discount Program, sponsored by National Association of Counties (NACo). This program is free to El Paso County government and is of no additional cost to taxpayers. Cards will be available at County locations throughout the region. For additional information, visit and click on the logo. The website will list participating distribution points as well as specific information on eligible prescriptions and pharmacies.

Over 80 local pharmacies will provide El Paso County citizens with a significant savings on medications. On Monday, June 29, El Paso County Officials will hold a news conference at the Fountain Valley Senior Center to announce the start up of a Countywide Prescription Discount Program sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo). The news conference will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Center’s multi-purpose room, located at 5745 Southmoor Drive in Fountain, CO. Expected attendees include elected officials, members of the business and health-based communities, school district representatives, pharmacy staff, Citizen Outreach Group (COG) and other County and Municipal partners, who will be available for interviews following the formal presentation.

Beginning July 1, the Prescription Discount Program will be available to all County residents regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no cost to the county, county taxpayers or consumers to participate in the program, and no enrollment forms, membership fees or use restrictions apply. In addition to over 80 local participating pharmacies, the RX discount card is accepted at nearly 59,000 locations nationwide — offering card carriers savings on medications averaging approximately 23%. Many County facilities have been designated as distribution points for the prescription discount cards, including the Clerk & Recorder Offices, Treasurer’s Office, Assessor’s Office, Department of Human Services, Health Department and Pikes Peak Workforce Center, among others. A complete listing of participating pharmacies and discount card distribution locations can be found on the County website at

“Given the sustained downturn in our local and national economy, coupled with increasing health care costs, we anticipate that the County’s Prescription Discount Program will bring immediate and substantial savings to many of our residents,” said County Commissioner Sallie Clark. “It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the purpose of this program is to ensure that more of our citizens are able to take advantage of prescribed medicines for treating their ailments and maintaining overall health.” Currently, there are an estimated 80,000 El Paso County residents who are uninsured or underinsured, and other residents may require medications that either are not covered or are “capped” by their existing health plans.
For more information about the County Prescription Discount Program, log onto or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

Who: El Paso County Officials and Partner Agencies
What: News Conference to announce launch of County Prescription Discount Program
When/Where: 10:30 AM, June 29, Fountain Valley Senior Center, 5745 Southmoor Dr., Fountain, CO. Take exit 135 (south Academy exit) east to 85/87 then turn right (south) on 85/87 and another right onto Southmoor Dr.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner , Colorado Springs, Colorado

Ten or twenty years from now when we look back on the events that made news in 2009, I suspect we’ll find that an event in Denver on April 30 should have made bigger headlines. The signing of State SB141 was barely mentioned by most of our local media. It’s not surprising; the legislature passes and the Governor signs many bills and only a handful make the front page. But I’m convinced that ten or twenty years from now, when we look back, we’ll view the signing of SB141 as a major milestone.

SB141 created the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District. It marks an important turning point in local history – the day we all took joint responsibility for Fountain Creek. The District is a legal entity that stretches across both El Paso County and Pueblo County lines. It provides elected representatives in both counties a way to solve the long standing and complex problems that result when more and more homes and businesses use water in El Paso County and then release that water down Fountain Creek to be re-used in the Arkansas Valley.

In signing the bill, the Governor noted, “This represents an incredible collaborative accomplishment between two counties, over an extremely contentious issue.” In truth, it took years of negotiations. The sixty-page legislation signed into law last month was painstakingly written and rewritten. With legal assistance from Pueblo County and Colorado Springs Utilities, El Paso County’s own Assistant County Attorney Cole Emmons and Water Authority Manager Gary Barber worked many long days; attended many late night and early morning meetings and spent hours in consultation with lawyers and elected representatives throughout the Watershed area to come up with the final legislation.

No one said it would be easy, but when we see Fountain Creek transitioning from a public concern to valuable asset, it will be worth everything that went into making it happen. Just as Cherry Creek and Confluence Park are shining examples for the Denver area, Fountain Creek can become our own shining example for both Pueblo and El Paso Counties as envisioned by former Sen. Salazar when he established his “Crown Jewel” plan. The new district will receive $50 million in gradual funding through Colorado Springs Utilities payments for mitigation improvements of Fountain Creek as a result of the Southern Delivery System. In addition, it will now be eligible for additional grants as a State designated watershed authority.

This was truly a collaboration of 3-1/2 years of hard work—by El Paso and Pueblo County Commissioners and City Council Members from Pueblo and Colorado Springs, small cities and towns throughout the region from Palmer Lake to Manitou Springs to Fountain, environmental groups, Congressional representatives, the military, councils of governments, utilities from both Pueblo and Colorado Springs, water agencies from El Paso County and the Lower Arkansas Valley, and an extensive amount of participation of many others. Our Fountain Creek Visioning group met month after month and year after year to come up with a consensus on issues such as water quality, the environment, and land use planning, just to name a few. While it’s too long a list to mention all the players, the process—sometimes cooperative and sometimes contentious, provided a venue to work through ground breaking good-neighbor agreements. This relationship building exercise also had a positive impact on the future of water availability to our entire region.

And especially unique to Colorado’s political climate, this piece of legislation crossed party lines with Representative Marsha Looper (R-El Paso), Senator Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo) and Representative Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) carrying the bill. They reached across the aisle to assure that SB141 passed unanimously, just as County Commissioner Dennis Hisey (El Paso) and I, along with Commissioner Jeff Chostner (Pueblo) and former Pueblo Commissioner Loretta Kennedy, Vice Mayor Larry Small (Colorado Springs) and Councilwomen Barbara Vidmar and Vera Ortegon (Pueblo) had done to establish a strategic plan and draft the template language for the bill. All of those involved in this process deserve a special thanks for staying the course when it would have been easier to just walk away. As a result, I’m convinced that the commitment and collaboration that started years ago will continue and one day in the not terribly distant future that instead of being a liability, Fountain Creek will be a destination which includes parks, trails and most importantly a beautiful waterway as an asset to our partner communities.

For more information, visit

Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner District 3, Colorado Springs, CO

Sallie Clark was elected to serve as an El Paso County Commissioner in November of 2004 to represent District 3 and was re-elected in 2008. She was elected and served as Board Chair of the Commission in 2006 and currently serves as Vice Chair. Her district encompasses western El Paso County, including the City of Colorado Springs, the City of Manitou Springs, the Town of Green Mountain Falls, and the unincorporated areas in the western portion of the county, including the Turkey Canyon area on the south, the area just south of the Air Force Academy, and the Ute Pass area on the far west to the El Paso County line.

Sallie became a military wife in 1980 when she married Welling Clark. In 1985, the couple settled in Colorado Springs. She has family roots in Colorado; her father was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado and she spent every summer on her grandmother’s farm there. She loves Colorado, and continues to appreciate our open spaces, mountain scenery and especially the Pikes Peak area. She enjoys hobbies such as cooking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tennis, golf and reading. Sallie has owned her own business since 1986. She operates Holden House Bed & Breakfast Inn, located on the historic Westside. Her local interest in public service began with the well-known issue to save Fire Station 3.

In addition to her service on the Colorado Springs City Council, she has served on various local and state organizations and committees. These include the State of Colorado’s Travel and Tourism Authority, Organization of Westside Neighbors, School District 11 Business Sounding Board, the Westside Schools Task Force, the National Fire Protection Association 1710 Committee, Council of Neighbors and Organizations, Springs Community Improvements Program Public Safety Committee, the Dr. Lester L. Williams Fire Museum Board, the Colorado Restaurant Association-Pikes Peak Chapter, National League of Cities Public Safety Committee, the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” Committee, and with her husband, founded the Colorado Bed and Breakfast Association in 1987. She is also an instructor and small-business consultant for aspiring bed and breakfast innkeepers. Sallie previously worked in the medical profession and the cancer field, prior to opening her own business over 23 years ago.

Sallie received the "2002 Woman of Distinction Award" from Soroptimist International, was named one of the Denver Post’s People to Watch 2001, has been awarded the “Best Civic Leader", "Best Role Model” and “Best County Commissioner” from the Colorado Springs Independent Newspaper, and is a past recipient of the "Tourism Industry Award" from the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sallie received the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s “40 Achievers Award“ and was nominated for the publication’s “2004 Women of Influence Award”. In 2005 and 2008, she was nominated for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber’s “Athena Award”. In 2006 she received the “Accolades” award from the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber and the “Award of Distinction” from the American Heart Association for the Pikes Peak area’s Go Red for Women campaign. She served as campaign chair for 2006 and 2007 for United Way and received the Elected Official of the Year from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce in 2008.

In addition to her many volunteer activities, Sallie serves as liaison to the offices of the Sheriff, Treasurer, Coroner, and Surveyor. She is currently a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Justice and Public Safety Committee and serves as the State’s Child Welfare Allocations Committee representing Colorado Counties Inc. Her additional Commissioner duties include the El Paso County's Citizen Outreach Group, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Department of Human Services, the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment and the El Paso County Emergency Services Agency, among others. She is the third woman to have served as Commission Board Chair in El Paso County and also served as Vice Chair in 2005 and currently in 2009. She was elected in 2009 to serve as Vice Chair of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).

“It’s a privilege take an active part in our local government”, says Commissioner Clark. “I’m honored to represent and serve the citizens of El Paso County.”