MOUNT VERNON — The first woman to hold the position of Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, spoke Tuesday night at the Knox County Democratic Women’s meeting. Members as well as people from the community listened as Brunner spoke on her term as secretary of state and her campaign as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
When Brunner was elected secretary of state in 2006, she said she had her hands full, especially after the problems that were left from the 2004 election. Her goal became to make the election process a trustworthy method for citizens to vote.
“The one goal we were looking for is that people would have confidence in the election process; not saying that they didn’t before, but there was so much doubt that registered about us after 2004,” said Brunner.
She began to address concerns for ways to improve security at the board of elections, at the polling place, in the transportation of voting equipment, and with the servers who do the ballot layout as well as calculate the votes on election night.
In order to make these changes, she said, she wanted to understand how each county would be affected from the rural to the urban community.
“So I started visiting boards of elections and as I visited each board, it helped me understand better [what needed to be done],” said Brunner. “Overall what we were trying to do is protect individual voting rights so that no matter where you went to in Ohio, you were going to have the same type of experience, and the laws would be applied the same ways.”
With the 2008 presidential election, Brunner was able to see the election process be a big success, with all of the polls closing on time.
“If I were to say what would be two indicators of a smooth election in 2008, it would be short lines, and no lawsuits on Election Day,” she said. “On that night I felt very blessed, but getting there was not easy.”
Despite the challenges Brunner faced as Secretary of State, she said she didn’t lose her love for public service. Rather, it has empowered her to run for the U.S. Senate.
“I understand that by going to the senate it’s not just about how you vote on legislation,” she said. “In this time and place it’s more about what kinds of resources you can bring back to Ohio, and what skills and talents you bring to your communities in the state; to work collaboratively with local and elected officials, with businesses and chambers of commerce, labor organizations, civil and nonprofit organizations by bringing those stakeholders to the table and listening to them and getting them to work together. And as you build that solution for an individual problem, they then go back and become your ambassadors for change.”
In her campaign platform, Brunner’s two major focuses are to bring more jobs to Ohio and improving health care for all Ohioans.
“I see a lot of promise with Ohio because if you travel Ohio, it’s an amazing state. Not only beautiful, but a diversity of people and the strength of the people are our greatest resource,” she said.