This week, Missouri and Washington swore in new Secretaries of State - the only two new faces in that job as a result of the 2012 elections. Both of them are extremely impressive, but bring very different backgrounds to their work. Here are their bios as presented on their official sites:
Jason Kander, 31, was sworn in as Missouri's 39th Secretary of State in January 2013. A former U.S. Army Captain, Jason is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Prior to his election as Secretary of State, he practiced law, represented Kansas City in the Missouri General Assembly, and served on the Missouri Veterans Commission. He is a graduate of American University and Georgetown Law School and is married to his high school sweetheart, Diana. He is America's youngest statewide elected official.
A fifth generation Missourian, Jason learned early in life about the importance of community service. His mother was a juvenile probation officer and his father was a police officer who later ran a small business.
On September 11, 2001, Jason was a political science student at American University. Moved by what he saw that day, Jason later enlisted in the Army National Guard and served in an infantry unit. While a law student at Georgetown University, he successfully pursued his commission as a Military Intelligence Officer in the Army Reserve. He volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2006. As an intelligence officer in Afghanistan, he investigated groups and individuals suspected of corruption, espionage, drug trafficking, and facilitating Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
In an unclassified evaluation, Jason's commanders praised his willingness to volunteer for dangerous duty, describing him as an "outstanding leader" whose work saved lives. The U.S. Director of Intelligence in Afghanistan advised the Army to "track this officer's career closely; he is one of the best." After his deployment, Jason was assigned as a combat leadership instructor in the Missouri Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School at Fort Leonard Wood. In 2010, he earned national recognition and was selected as one of 10 finalists for the Army Reserve Junior Officer of the Year Award by the Reserve Officer Association.
In 2008, Jason knocked on 20,000 doors in Kansas City during his first successful campaign for State Representative. As a state legislator, Jason worked with both parties to pass ethics reform legislation. As a member of the Budget committee, he exposed a no-bid contract and helped balance the budget without raising taxes. He passed legislation to take Missouri's human trafficking laws from some of the weakest to some of the strongest in the nation. He also authored and passed Sam and Lindsey's law to help authorities prevent kidnapping during custody battles.
In 2009, Jason was appointed to the Missouri Veterans Commission, a nine-member board that oversees all services for our state's veterans. He was also an attorney in private practice representing clients in state and federal courts before assuming statewide office. As Secretary of State, Jason's priorities include ensuring access to the ballot for eligible voters, protecting Missourians from fraud, and helping small business owners succeed.
Kim Wyman is Washington's 15th Secretary of State, currently serving in her first term. Elected in 2012, Kim Wyman is the second female Secretary of State in Washington history. Before becoming Secretary, Kim served as Thurston County Auditor for 12 years, overseeing the county's elections, licensing, recording and financial services. During her tenure, the Thurston County Auditor's Office won four National Achievement Awards for significant innovations in county government as well as five Government Finance Officers Association Certificates of Achievement for excellence in financial reporting. As Auditor, Kim served on state and national election reform groups, including the Pew Center on the States Election Initiatives - Voter Registration Modernization and Performance Index of Elections work groups. Secretary Wyman is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach and holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Troy State University in Alabama. Kim is past president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors and is a member of the Lacey Rotary Club and a number of charitable and nonprofit organizations. Kim resides in Lacey with her husband, John. The Wymans have two children. Secretary Wyman enjoys running, Zumba, weightlifting, music, and attending her children's sporting events.
Congratulations to both officials - I look forward to working with each of you!