OLYMPIA — Washington has a Democratic secretary of state for the first time since 1965.
Former state Sen. Steve Hobbs was sworn in Monday as Washington's 16th secretary of state by Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu.
"This is pretty surreal for me," Hobbs said Monday. "I never expected this to happen to me."
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Hobbs following former Secretary of State Kim Wyman's resignation, effective Monday morning. She is leaving Washington to accept a job as a senior election security lead for the Biden administration.
Hobbs will be the first person of color to serve in the role. He also is the first Democrat to hold the office since Democratic Secretary of State Victor Meyers, a jazz musician who went on to a long career in state politics. Meyers left office in 1965 after losing a bid for a third term.
In remarks following his swearing in, Hobbs said he plans to prioritize cybersecurity and fighting misinformation around the elections' processes. The Secretary of State is Washington's chief election official. Their role also includes archiving government records and providing information and access to businesses about corporations and charities.
Hobbs said he plans to build on what Wyman has already done for securing the state's elections and emphasize cybersecurity. His experience in the National Guard and through defense information training through the U.S. Department of Defense will guide him.
Additionally, Hobbs said he wants to create a "cell" within the agency to respond specifically to misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is "as big a threat as our cybersecurity," he said.
"The last thing we need is to have our democracy eroded by people believing our elections system is not secure when it is secure," Hobbs said.
A Democrat from Snohomish County, he had served in the state Senate since 2007. A Seante replacement for Hobbs will be determined by Snohomish County.
He is a lieutenant colonel in the Washington State National Guard.
Hobbs acknowledged his lack of experience in elections administration Monday, but said the office has changed. National security is now of prime importance, he said.
A replacement for Hobbs in the Senate will be determined by Snohomish County.
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