Bernie Buescher

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Bernie Buescher
Colorado Secretary of State
In office
January 14, 2009 – January 14, 2011
Preceded by Mike Coffman
Succeeded by Scott Gessler
Personal details
Born July 11, 1949 (1949-07-11) (age 67)
Grand Junction, Colorado
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Beth Buescher
Residence Grand Junction, Colorado
Alma mater University of Colorado
Profession Lawyer

Bernie Buescher (born July 11, 1949) is the former secretary of state of Colorado. A Democrat, he was appointed to the office in 2009 by Governor of Colorado Bill Ritter to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Republican Mike Coffman.

Early life[edit]

Buescher is a fourth-generation Coloradoan who was born and raised in Grand Junction and has lived there most of his life. After the untimely death of his father, when Bernie was 15 years old, Bernie’s mother, Vickey Buescher, worked hard to put her three children through college and her example taught them that through hard work they could achieve their goals. Buescher attended college at the University of Notre Dame and graduated with an accounting degree which he used to help put himself through law school. While at Notre Dame, Buescher met his future wife, Mary Beth. They have been married for 37 years and they have four adult children, Michael, Elizabeth, Marcia, and Susan, and two grandchildren. Buescher and Mary Beth both received their law degrees from the University of Colorado in 1974.

Career[edit]

After law school, Buescher and Mary Beth returned to Grand Junction, where they raised their family. Buescher joined the firm of Williams, Turner and Holmes, and practiced corporate law until 1987; that year he became president and CEO of West Star Aviation. West Star was a struggling company with 27 employees when Buescher took over; when he resigned nine years later, the company had grown to 220 employees and was consistently profitable. During these years, Buescher and Mary Beth immersed themselves in issues facing their community; their work was recognized in 2004 when they were named “Citizens of the Year” by the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce.

In 1996, Governor Roy Romer asked Buescher to serve as interim manager for the Colorado State Fair; after the successful reorganization of the State Fair Romer appointed Buescher as executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing in 1997. Buescher resigned in 1998 to run for lieutenant governor with Gail Schoettler as governor. The race was unsuccessful and Buescher returned to Grand Junction, where he continued his volunteer activities.

Political career[edit]

In 2004 Buescher was elected to the Colorado General Assembly where he served two terms. At the Legislature, Buescher was appointed to the Joint Budget Committee by Speaker Andrew Romanoff; he served as chair of the Joint Budget Committee in 2006 and 2008, and also chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2007 and 2008. Key legislative accomplishment include working on legislations to strengthen and preserve PERA; four separate bills promoting Colorado’s wineries; expansion of the use of renewable energy for Colorado and counseling for the young victims of child abuse. He also worked on significant legislation expanding the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and legislation regarding the allocation of Federal Mineral Lease Revenues with the intent of building a significant “rainy day fund” for the State of Colorado. For his efforts, Buescher was recognized as “Legislator of the Year” by numerous groups, including the Colorado Non Profit Association, The Colorado Economic Developers Council and the United Veterans Committee.

In 2009, Buescher was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to serve as Colorado Secretary of State. During his two years in office, Buescher reduced expenses in the office by approximately 20%, streamlined business operations and developed an on-line voter registration system. Buescher also returned over $1.5MM of overpayments to customers; these overpayments had accumulated during the administration of three prior secretaries of state.

Buescher was unsuccessful in his election bid in 2010, losing to Scott Gessler. Shortly after the election, Buescher was asked by John Suthers, the Republican attorney general, to serve as deputy attorney general. Buescher served in this position until September 2014. In June 2014, Buescher was awarded the Maurie Knaizer Distinguished Service Award, the attorney general’s highest award. Shortly thereafter, Governor John Hickenlooper proclaimed August 27, 2014 “Bernie Buescher Day,” in honor of Buescher’s service to the State of Colorado.

In December 2015, Buescher joined the firm of Ireland Stapleton Pryor and Pascoe, PC as “Of Counsel.” His practice involves regulatory matters related to health care, energy and elections.

Buescher has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Bright by Three, St. Mary’s Hospital, The Colorado Health and Hospital Association and the Colorado Youth Conservation Corps.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Coffman
Secretary of State of Colorado
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Scott Gessler