The Bulletin Board

Gardner, the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state, retiring

By: - January 3, 2022 4:39 pm
Bill Gardner announces his retirement while standing at a lectern flanked by people on both sides

Secretary of State Bill Gardner, 73, (center) announced his retirement on Monday. (Amanda Gokee | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Bill Gardner, who has served as New Hampshire’s secretary of state since 1976, announced on Monday that he plans to retire this week. David Scanlan, the current deputy secretary of state, will take over the post, according to Gardner. 

The decision, which came as a surprise, opens the possibility of a multi-candidate race for secretary of state later this year. Under the state’s constitution, the Legislature elects the secretary of state every two years. The next election will be held next December, under a newly elected state Legislature. 

Gardner said his decision comes at the “smoothest” time in the election cycle, without an impending state or presidential election, and added that the decision was not motivated by personal or health reasons. Gardner is 73 years old and has been serving in the role for 46 years, which made him the longest-serving secretary of state in the nation. During that time, he has become known as a staunch supporter of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which he said he would continue to defend through speaking engagements and writing.

“New Hampshire is a special place – we all know – special within our country for so many reasons. I will continue to stand up for the best of those traditions, first and foremost the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. We will face unknown challenges in the years to come,” Gardner said. 

In a written statement released on Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu commended Gardner for his time in office and his efforts to ensure that elections are “always open, fair, accessible, and accurate.”

“We will miss Bill and his vast institutional knowledge of New Hampshire people, politics, and government,” he said.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.