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Coloradans lead Governing’s list of top public officials

Author: Joey Bunch - November 19, 2018 - Updated: November 19, 2018

Amber McReynoldsAmber McReynolds, then-director of elections for the city and county of Denver, discusses the innovations and changes to empower voters and simplify the process at an election summit in March. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons via YouTube)

When Governing magazine looked around the country for the best public officials, it found several in Colorado.

The list of 10 honorees includes former Denver elections director Amber McReynolds, state prisons chief Rick Raemisch and state legislator Faith Winter.

“Each of these public servants has laid out a bold vision for improving the lives of their constituents — and then worked tirelessly to make that vision a reality,” Zach Patton, Governing’s executive editor, said in a statement.

“We’re talking about the kind of goals that push society in a new direction, whether that’s confronting sexual harassment in state capitols in the era of #MeToo, finding a way to make community college free for all students, putting an end to solitary confinement for prisoners, or eliminating every single traffic fatality on city streets.”

> Read Governing’s profiles of the honorees here

Others on the list include Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The winners are profiled in the newest issue of the magazine and will be feted at a dinner at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28.

The magazine writes about McReynolds’ 13-year career with the city and county of Denver, combining “technology and common sense” to improve turnout, lower costs and improve security.

“The entire elections process was never designed with the voters’ interest first,” McReynolds said in the profile. “It was designed for political parties and campaigns.”

> RELATED: Rising political star Amber McReynolds leaving Denver elections post

In August, McReynolds became executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition.

Raemisch, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, brought reforms to the use of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement came into the question of why his predecessor, Tom Clements, was allegedly killed by a former inmate in 2013.

“Rather than spending time in solitary cells, these inmates have access to de-escalation rooms where they are not confined and can sort out their issues with the assistance of staff.” the magazine reported in the profile. “The de-escalation rooms have been so successful in those two facilities that Colorado is rolling them out across its entire prison system in the coming months.”

Winter, a Democratic state representative from Westminster, was profiled as one of three “legislators of #MeToo,” with Democratic state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Illinois and Republican state Rep. Karen Engleman of Indiana.

> Full Text: Rep. Faith Winter’s statement on the day of Rep. Lebsock’s expulsion

Winter went public with accusations against former state Rep. Steve Lebsock, a fellow Democrat from Thornton, and he ultimately was expelled from the legislature on a 52-9 vote in March.

Winter was elected to the state Senate this month.

“After a fellow legislator made lewd comments to her at an event in May 2016, Winter decided enough was enough,” Governing reported. “She filed a private complaint with legislative leadership and they reached an informal resolution. Months later, she became aware of at least eight other women who had been harassed by the same lawmaker.

“‘I felt so guilty that other people had been harassed and I hadn’t said anything,’ she says. Winter filed a public complaint and ultimately led a group of five women in an effort to have the offending lawmaker expelled.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.