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A word from Secretary of State Dennis Richardson
Salem, OR—I’m excited to announce that I just passed the 100-day mark as your Secretary of State, and today I am sharing a brief report of our progress.
On December 30, an inauguration was held in the Capitol that was attended by more than 700 excited Oregonians. January 2 was my official first day on the job, and January 6 was my first official appearance at the swearing-in ceremony in Portland for 35 new Americans. These immigrants, like many of our ancestors, came from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America with hope and excitement for a new life in the Land Of The Free. This naturalization ceremony provided the opportunity for me to give an impromptu talk on what it means to be an American.
With the guidance of Oregon’s Chief Archivist Mary Beth Herkert, we’ve breathed new life into the Oregon Constitutional Challenge. Our goal is to restore our deteriorating state constitution and place it on permanent display in protected cases. The manuscript will be kept at the Archives Building and on special occasions brought to the Capitol where all visitors, including school children, can see and learn about our state’s early history and the pioneering founders who crafted our earliest laws. Please take a minute and learn about this important project: https://youtu.be/p0CbioHLoaA
For nearly a year, our Audits Division has been functioning without a permanent Division Director and with several auditor vacancies. During this time, we’ve been very fortunate to have steady leadership from Interim Director Mary Wenger. Since taking office, we have filled 75% of our audits vacancies and made continuous improvements in our processes and reporting. Recent audit work has included transportation, energy, and municipal audits and we are now focusing on education, environmental quality, foster care, and Medicaid. I’m happy to report that yesterday, Kip Memmott assumed the reins as Audits Division Director. Kip is a nationally recognized leader in performance auditing and brings to the Oregon Audits team a wealth of experience. Kip and our executive team will work together to provide the energy and leadership needed to transform our Audits Division into Oregon’s own Government Accountability Office.
The Corporations Division is the first stop for Oregon businesses. Under the experienced leadership of Corporations Director Peter Threlkel, we’ve become known for quick, friendly, and efficient assistance to businesses of all sizes. In addition, Ruth Miles is Oregon’s Small Business Advocate and helps businesses work with government agencies at both the state and local levels: http://sos.oregon.gov/businessSoS
My commitment to helping all eligible Oregon voters gain access to their ballots was demonstrated last week with the announcement that the Elections Division will restore or protect the rights of more than 60,000 registered voters: https://youtu.be/b6LIdjClC_Q These voters have either been removed or would soon be removed from active voter status. Being on the inactive voter list would keep them from receiving their mailed ballots in future elections.
My next newsletter will update you on both the decisions coming out of the State Land Board and the Redistricting Task Force. The Task Force is a multi-partisan attempt to make recommendations for how Oregon can have fair, non-partisan redistricting. Suffice it to say, the guiding principles of my administration as Secretary of State continue to be restoring greater accountability, transparency, and trust in state government.
In closing, be assured I’m taking the responsibilities of this office very seriously. I’m surrounding myself with qualified and quality women and men to lead our agency divisions. With their help, I’m doing all in my power to earn the respect and confidence of those who gave me the opportunity to serve in this important role.
I’ll continue to put the needs of Oregonians first.