North Haven Resident Appointed Secretary of the State to Fill Vacancy
Governor Ned Lamont (D) has appointed a North Haven resident to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Denise Merrill who stepped down from her position as Secretary of State at noon on June 30.
Mark F. Kohler was appointed by Lamont on June 30 and was sworn-in on July 1. He will remain in the position until a newly elected Secretary of the State assumes office following the Nov. 8 election. According to Connecticut law, if the Office of the Secretary of the State becomes vacant when the General Assembly is not in session, the governor shall fill the position. The General Assembly adjourned the regular session on May 4.
“I am honored and humbled to be named by Governor Ned Lamont to serve out the remainder of this term and continue my public service on behalf of the people of the State of Connecticut,” Kohler said. “I have the utmost respect, appreciation, and admiration for the work Denise Merrill accomplished in this role, and I look forward to working with her dedicated team of professionals to ensure that our elections are carried out in an accessible, fair, and transparent manner. I thank Governor Lamont for this tremendous honor, and I look forward to carrying out the work of the state.”
Kohler retired earlier this year following a 30-year career in the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, serving as an associate attorney general. During his three decades with the office, he served within several of its divisions, most notably from 2011 to 2021 as the head of the Special Litigation Department, which is responsible for representing all state constitutional officers, the legislature, and the judiciary, with responsibilities over election matters, charities, gaming, and federal Indian tribal issues. In this role, Kohler supervised all department litigation and agency counseling, and provided formal and informal opinions to state officials and agencies regarding a wide range of constitutional and statutory questions.
Governor Lamont explained that Kohler’s three decades of service in a leadership position at the Office of the Attorney General provides him with a considerable amount of experience that will benefit him as Secretary of the State.
“Mark is incredibly well-respected as a levelheaded, tactful, and experienced attorney who has a considerable understanding of Connecticut state statutes, particularly those concerning the operations of our elections and government administration,” Lamont said in a statement. “The circumstances surrounding the need to fill this vacancy are very unfortunate, but I am pleased that Mark has agreed to step away briefly from his retirement and return to state service. I am confident that this will be a smooth transition, and that the staff of dedicated professionals that Secretary Merrill has led during her nearly 12 years in office are ready to continue carrying out the office’s duties on behalf of the people of Connecticut.”
Former Secretary of the State Merrill, a Democrat who previously served as a member of the state House of Representatives, was elected as Secretary of the State in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. She announced her intent to resign from office to care for her ill husband on June 28.
“It is after long and serious consideration, and with a heavy heart, that I have decided to resign my office as Secretary of the State at the end of this month. My family’s health, and in particular my husband’s diagnosis of a degenerative disease, requires my full attention at this time, and cannot wait the six months left to finish out my term,” Merrill said in a statement.
Kohler will not seek the office in the Nov. 8 election.