LANSING, Mich. — Calling it the greatest honor of her life, Jocelyn Benson today became Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State in ceremonies at the State Capitol in Lansing.
Administering the oath of office before thousands of onlookers, including her husband and two-year-old son, was her mentor retired Sixth Circuit Court Judge Damon J. Keith. Benson came to Michigan to clerk for Keith, who later presided over Benson and Friedrichs wedding on Belle Isle in Detroit.
“I began my career in Montgomery, Alabama investigating hate groups and hate crimes throughout the country,” Benson said in her prepared remarks. “It was there, standing at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where I was instilled with a deep commitment to do everything I could -- wherever I was -- to continue the work of those leaders in 1965 who sacrificed everything to protect our sacred right to vote."
“And now, as your Secretary of State, I will work every day to bring that same commitment as our state’s chief election officer to protect your vote, your voice, and our democracy,” Benson added.
Reiterating themes from her campaign, Benson told onlookers it is a “new day for democracy” and said she is ready to make Michigan a national leader in fair and accessible elections and to ensure legislative districts are drawn by citizens in a nonpartisan manner as outlined in Proposal 2 approved by voters in November. She also said she is will work to take Michigan from worst to first in transparency, ethics, and accountability.
Benson made special note of the service guarantee she talked about during the campaign.
“I am ready to instill a new standard and expectation for excellent customer service in our state government because every person -- no matter where you live in Michigan – deserves to get-in-and-out of our branch offices in less than 30 minutes,” Benson said.
She closed with a pledge to help ensure that state government works to serve and protect our military service members, families, and veterans just as they have worked to serve and protect all of us.
Benson is a national leader in election law and author of Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process. Prior to her election she served as CEO and President of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and dean of Wayne State University Law School. A co-founder Military Spouses of Michigan, a network dedicated to providing support and services to military spouses and their children, she is a graduate of Wellesley College, Harvard Law School and Oxford University. She is married to Ryan Friedrichs. Together they have a two-year-old son, Aiden.