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Tennessee secretary of state speaks to Dyersburg Kiwanis

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks to the Kiwanis Club at a lunch meeting on Wednesday, June 5. Hargett, originally from Ripley, shared his duties and experiences as the first Republican to serve as secretary of state in Tennessee.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett was the featured speaker at the Dyersburg Kiwanis Club's regular meeting on Wednesday, June 5.

Joe Enoch introduced Hargett to the group, complimenting the secretary on his hard work and diligence in his service to the state of Tennessee.

"Tre is from Ripley," said Enoch. "He is a West Tennessee boy who has gone to the big city and done good."

Hargett said when Enoch asked him to speak, he suggested Hargett share everything he knows about state government with Kiwanis members.

"I said, 'You want me to tell them everything I know about state government in 20 minutes?'" said Hargett. "And Joe said, 'Well ... maybe you could tell them twice.'"

The first Republican to serve as secretary of state in Tennessee, Hargett was elected by a joint caucus of the General Assembly in 2009.

Hargett said Tennessee, Maine and New Hampshire are the only three states in the nation to elect its secretary of state in this way.

Hargett said many residents are unaware of what the secretary of state does on a daily basis. In addition to being in charge of state elections, Hargett's job includes a variety of other important obligations.

"We don't run a Democratic election or a Republican election. We run a good, fair election," said Hargett, who said his office is diligent in combating voter fraud and works closely with local election commissions. "(The average person does not know) what (their local) election commission does on a daily basis. You are one of the counties I never hear about. And that's a good thing."

The secretary of state's office is also in charge of producing the Tennessee Blue Book, which offers Tennessee state history and provides residents with important information on state government.

"It is a great resource for you to be able to see who is in charge of what and who you can call," said Hargett, who said his office also records all of the official acts of the governor's office and tests the governor's signature on extradition contracts.

As secretary of state, Hargett serves on the State Building Commission and partners with institutions of higher learning throughout the state and sits on the State Funding Board and sets the economic growth rate for the state.

He is proud of the state's credit rating -- the highest allotted by Fitch and Moody and the second highest rank by Standard and Poor's -- and that Tennessee ranks the 49th lowest state in state taxes per capita. Hargett said Tennessee is also one of the least indebted states in the nation and he appreciates the way Gov. Bill Haslam's administration has attacked economic development.

As for his office, Hargett has reduced his budget from $30.6 million to $26 million and his personnel from 444 funded positions to 375 during his tenure.

"We now have just under 300 employees on the payroll and I am convinced the customer service you get is better than it's ever been," said Hargett. "We are constantly evaluating our process ... and realizing that we are not done yet. We want to make it easier for our citizens and to help our employees understand that everything they do benefits somebody. And I am having a blast doing it. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your secretary of state."

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