Susan Bysiewicz is Connecticut's 72nd Secretary of the State, first elected in 1998 and then re-elected in 2002 and 2006. Having previously served three terms in the state legislature from 1992 to 1998, representing the 100th Assembly District towns of Middletown, Durham and Middlefield, Secretary Bysiewicz came to her current position a dedicated public servant with significant experience in business, the legislative process, and elections.
As Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz continues to open her office to the general public, ensuring that the records and information housed in her office are indeed accessible to all Connecticut citizens. She was the first Secretary of the State to provide on-line access to search for essential information about the more than 310,000 companies registered to do business in Connecticut, and to seek campaign finance reports on the internet. Bringing such integral parts of the Secretary of the Stateâ€™s office to the global community was a groundbreaking effort on Secretary Bysiewiczâ€™s behalf, and both of these systems have been recognized nationally for their innovative use of technology.
As the state's chief business registrar, Secretary Bysiewicz makes it a top priority to enhance Connecticutâ€™s small business community. Recognizing that more than 96 percent of business growth in Connecticut over the last 10 years has come from businesses with fewer than 50 people, Secretary Bysiewicz is a leading proponent of providing support and assistance to small and minority-owned businesses. In 2000, Secretary Bysiewicz created CTShowcase, which encourages the creation of more small and minority-owned businesses through networking events, social events, roundtable discussions with business and community leaders, and a series of seminars. Since CTShowcaseâ€™s inception, 14 different business showcases have been held, attracting thousands of businesses throughout Connecticut. This small and minority-owned business initiative has significantly helped the stateâ€™s overall tax base and led to a more diverse statewide business community. Additionally, she regularly encourages the expansion and development of Connecticut-based companies through a streamlined registration process, and saved Connecticut taxpayersâ€™ money by returning $3.6 million allocated to her office to assist with deficit reduction. Over the past eight years, Secretary Bysiewicz has placed more than $150 million in the state's general fund from fees collected by her office.
In her nine years in office, Secretary Bysiewicz has recognized the importance of protecting citizensâ€™ privacy, a critical issue in an age where private information is regularly available on the Internet. Secretary Bysiewicz won key passage of a law to safeguard citizens' privacy by removing social security numbers from voter registration rolls, and also located thousands of lost Connecticut policyholders and beneficiaries of major insurance companies who were eligible for stock or cash during initial public offerings. Equally important is a program Secretary Bysiewicz introduced that protects victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by keeping victims' addresses confidential, one which has earned her thanks and praise from victimsâ€™ advocates throughout Connecticut.
Being the stateâ€™s chief elections official gives Secretary Bysiewicz the opportunity to work diligently in promoting voter registration and turnout, both of which she has repeatedly called the central elements of our countryâ€™s representative democracy. The hard work paid off in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential election, when Connecticutâ€™s voter turnout was among the highest turnout in the nation.
Recognizing that voter participation starts with our younger citizens, Secretary Bysiewicz also created "Youth Vote," a curriculum to educate students about the election process, and maintains an ongoing schedule of personal school visits at which she speaks directly with students about the essential responsibility we all have to take part in the electoral process. To date, Secretary Bysiewicz has visited over 250 schools across the state and has registered thousands of young people to vote. She has also successfully advocated for a new civics requirement for high school graduation.
Secretary Bysiewicz continues to support the modernization of Connecticutâ€™s voting technology and to ensure that the voting process is fair to those with disabilities. Specifically, she worked with United States Senator Christopher Dodd in 2002 on the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA), legislation aimed at protecting the rights of all voters and improving our overall electoral system. As part of this effort, she is overseeing the implementation of new, reliable optical scan voting technology for use in our stateâ€™s 169 towns. She also successfully fought to ensure that a technology was chosen that will allow the more than 200,000 Connecticut residents with disabilities to vote privately and independently in future elections.
As House Chair of the Government Administration & Elections Committee, her legislative accomplishments included authoring bills making Connecticut's lobbying and campaign finance disclosure laws among the strictest in the country. As a working parent, she fought for safer day care and won passage of a bill providing for tougher health and safety standards in preschools, helping to make Connecticut a national leader in both areas. Secretary Bysiewicz graduated from Yale University in 1983 and Duke University School of Law in 1986. After practicing corporate and international law at the New York City firm of White and Case, she returned to Connecticut with Robinson and Cole in Hartford, where she specialized in corporate and banking law from 1988 to 1992. In 1992, she joined the law department of Aetna Insurance Company, where she practiced health care and pension law until 1994.
While in law school, Secretary Bysiewicz authored the book Ella: A Biography of Governor Ella Grasso, the former Connecticut governor who was also the nation's first woman governor elected in her own right. A native of Middletown, where she grew up on a farm and attended public schools, Secretary Bysiewicz resides there with her husband, David Donaldson, and their three children. She is the granddaughter of Polish and Greek immigrants, and the first Polish-American and Greek-American to be elected to statewide constitutional office in Connecticut.
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