Q and A with Secretary of the State Mark Kohler


Q: Mr. Secretary, while new in this role, you have an extensive background in election law. How will your previous experience serve you in this new position?


A: While in the Attorney General’s Office, I served as head of the Special Litigation section, which had responsibility for advising and representing the Secretary of the State and over election-related issues generally. This gave me both a broad understanding of the complex legal and constitutional questions relating to elections as well as a familiarity with the many practical issues that exist in preparing for and conducting elections.  Although there are and will be many new challenges for me, I come to this position with a sound knowledge base of the Office’s work and the many good people who are doing it.


Q: You had just retired after three decades in the Attorney General’s office when Governor Lamont asked you to serve. What were you doing when you got the call and what went through your mind when you were asked?


A: To be frank, I was thoroughly enjoying myself sitting in the afternoon shade of my backyard reading a book, which had become part of my retirement routine. As this was not a call I was ever expecting, my initial reaction was a mixture of surprise and wonder. It did not take long, however, to know I would accept the Governor’s request. I had spent my career proudly as a public servant, and given how important this Office’s responsibilities are, it was plain this could be a most rewarding next chapter. 


Q: Your career screams of many accomplishments, particularly as associate Attorney General, and your resume is loud, too, but your reputation is that of a quiet, behind-the-scenes-type person. Is that an accurate assessment?


A: Perhaps the best way to answer that is I’ve never thought of my career “screaming” anything. But that assessment is accurate, and deliberately so. I have always focused on providing advice and counsel that could be trusted and helping others in government serve the interests of the State and its people. Taking credit has never been that important to me.


Q: How do you see yourself in this appointment, your responsibility, as secretary of the state through the end of the term?


A:  My principal goal and hope is to pick up the good work of Secretary Merrill and carry through to the end of this term. Leading an agency such as this has a multitude of responsibilities, and I look forward to the new challenges they will present. Stated simply, I view my task as being the best steward of the important authority of the Office I can. 


Q: There is a primary in August and election in November. What do you see your role being, or what do you hope is accomplished during these periods?


A: We are fortunate that this Office has an existing excellent leadership team and staff. My role is ensuring that they, as well as the many important local election officials, have all they need to ensure that we have fair, safe and transparent elections. My hope is to bring my legal background and long government experience to bear in providing leadership and decision making during the election process.