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Colorado
Secretary of State
Wayne W. Williams

Picture of Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams

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Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado
Secretary of State
Wayne W. Williams

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Colorado state seal

News Release

Media contact
Jonathan Tee
(303) 860-6903

State of Colorado
Department of State

1700 Broadway
Suite 250
Denver, CO 80290

Mike Coffman
Secretary of State

William A. Hobbs
Deputy Secretary of State

Colorado state seal

News Release

State of Colorado
Department of State

1700 Broadway
Suite 250
Denver, CO 80290

Mike Coffman
Secretary of State

William A. Hobbs
Deputy Secretary of State

Media contact
Jonathan Tee
(303) 860-6903

Inauguration Speech

Colorado Secretary of State, Mike Coffman

January 9, 2007
Secretary of State’s office
Aspen Room

Good morning. Thank you Reverend Paul Kotke for the opening prayer and thank you Justice Allison Eid for presiding over this ceremony.

It is a great honor for me to be before you today and be sworn in as Colorado’s 35th Secretary of State.

Today marks another step for me in a long career of public service to the State of Colorado and to our nation.

I would like to take the opportunity now to introduce two individuals who had a significant role in my life. The first is my mother who never tired of lecturing me during my formative years on the importance of the values of honor, integrity, courage and duty to country.

My long career in public service first began shortly after my 17th birthday when my reluctant parents both gave their required permission for me to enlist in the United States Army.

My father, a retired Army Master Sergeant, tried to persuade me that I needed to sign up for three years in order to get a guaranteed assignment versus a two enlistment where the Army would decide what my military occupational specialty would be. My father served the first ten years of his military career in the infantry, had been wounded in combat, and wanted something a little safer for his son.

I assured my father that the Army recruiter had promised me that I could sign up for the two year enlistment option and that I would not have to serve in the Army infantry.

I served for the next two years in the Army infantry.

My mother was deeply disappointed at my decision to drop out of high school in favor of military service and made me promise that someday I would finish high school.

I’m grateful for her insistence. Fortunately, one year latter, I was able to earn a high school diploma through an Army program thus fulfilling my promise to my mother.

I would like to introduce my mother, Dorothy Coffman, who is here today.

After a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, I came back home to attend the University of Colorado where I continued my military service as a member of a Judge Advocate General’s detachment in the United States Army Reserve.

When I first met my commanding officer, an Army reserve lieutenant colonel, whose leadership would later inspire me to make a career out of the military, he sternly lectured me on the high standards of his unit and his expectations of me as a young soldier.

My former commanding officer, now retired Brigadier General Bernard Thorn is with us today.

However, General Thorn, I think that your vision of my military career didn’t include me transferring from the U.S. Army Reserve to the United States Marine Corps, where I became an infantry officer.

There are a large number of vital responsibilities bestowed upon the Colorado Department of State that are handled by the many talented and dedicated employees in the licensing, business, information technology, administration and the elections division.

However, given the public’s focus on elections and the need to restore confidence in them, my initial focus will be with the elections division in my role as the Chief Elections Officer for the State of Colorado.

Recently, I had the opportunity to serve in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, where I helped coordinate support for the Iraqi election effort in some of the toughest parts of the country.

I will never forget an incident during the Constitutional referendum in October 2005 when insurgents attacked an Iraqi polling center in our area of responsibility. An Iraqi poll worker was wounded in the attack. He suffered from a shrapnel wound to his leg.

The Marines who were providing area security in the vicinity of the polling site immediately moved in to evacuate the wounded Iraqi poll worker, but the poll worker refused to be taken away and instead chose to continue to perform his duties at the polling center until the polls closed and every Iraqi citizen who had the courage to come out and exercise their right to vote that day, had the opportunity to do so.

Helping run elections in Iraq taught me the extraordinary value that all human beings, when given the opportunity, place on articulating their political aspirations through the ballot box.

In memory of the Marines who I have known who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms, the most sacred freedom being the right to vote, I will always vigorously defend the right to vote for every American citizen who calls Colorado their home.

I will always stand above partisan politics and be equally fair to all political parties and interest groups regardless of my personal beliefs.

As the chief elections officer, I will never work to shape or to influence the outcome of an election. My only concern will be to work with the county clerks all across Colorado to make sure that our electoral processes are always fair, honest, transparent and accountable.

Again, it is a great honor for me to serve as the 35th Secretary of State for the great State of Colorado.

God bless all of you. God bless Colorado and God bless the United States of America.