Governor Janice K. Brewer Biography
Janice K. Brewer took the oath of office as Governor of Arizona on January 21, 2009.
Prior to becoming Arizona’s 22nd Governor, she led a distinguished career of public service – guided by her devotion to family, faith in God and love of country.
Character Forged Early
Born in 1944 to Wilford and Edna Drinkwine, Jan Brewer grew up in Southern California. She lost her father at an early age, after he fell ill due to years spent breathing poisonous fumes while working at a Naval ammunitions depot. Edna Drinkwine, widowed and with two young children, did the only thing she could in facing this challenge: Meet it head-on.
So, she took all of her savings and opened a dress shop. Her daughter worked right beside her – with that small dress shop acting as a living classroom on the value of a dollar, the importance of hard work and the resilience inside every one of us.
Life’s Lessons Lead to Public Service
Jan Brewer never forgot those lessons. They helped lead her to run for elected office in 1982 when, now married and with a young family of her own, Ms. Brewer grew concerned about her children’s education. She was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, where she served until 1987. Following that, she ran for and was elected to the Arizona State Senate. She served until 1996, including a four-year period as Majority Whip.
In 1996, Ms. Brewer was elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. She inherited a local government bogged-down so deeply in debt that it was using short-term borrowing just to meet cash flow. Ms. Brewer was elected Board Chairwoman in 1998 and again in 2001. By the conclusion of her term in 2002, she and her fellow Supervisors had executed a financial turnaround so dramatic that Governing Magazine proclaimed Maricopa County “one of the two best managed large counties in the nation.”
After serving two terms with the county, Ms. Brewer was elected Arizona Secretary of State in 2002. In this role, she led pioneering new efforts to assist voting by American military service members deployed overseas, and helped institute tough new regulations mandating ID at the polls. The toughest challenges of her political career lay just ahead, however.
From Secretary Brewer to Madame Governor
Ms. Brewer became Governor in January 2009 following the resignation of Governor Janet Napolitano. Ms. Brewer – now Governor Brewer – would call upon each of the lessons from her upbringing and the entirety of her experience in public service.
Governor Brewer took control of a State budget crisis deemed the nation’s worst, as well as an economy bleeding jobs by the tens of thousands. She vowed to bring Arizona back from the brink. And she did.
Her formula: Conservative leadership, free-market principles and a willingness to make tough decisions.
First, Governor Brewer and the Arizona Legislature shrank government to a size the State could afford. But she knew the key was not just to make government smaller. It needed to be more effective.
Limited-Government Reforms Pay Off
Governor Brewer instituted critical reforms to programs like Medicaid and the State personnel system. She raised the bar of expectations for Arizona teachers and students with the Arizona Ready education program, and oversaw a sea change in investigative policies and procedures designed to ensure that Child Protective Services does a better job living up to its name and mission.
Of course, Governor Brewer also has been a consistent voice for the rights of states as part of her support for new federalism. This was perhaps best illustrated by her signing of SB 1070, a measure intended to give law enforcement more tools with which to combat illegal immigration. The law rocketed Governor Brewer to national prominence and continues to enjoy strong public support in Arizona and across the country.
Governor Brewer has been focused on economic growth, as well. Knowing private business is the key to a strong economy, she recruited some of Arizona’s top business leaders to participate in the new Arizona Commerce Authority. She has also kept State regulations lean and worked with legislators to trim taxes and incentivize the creation of quality jobs, helping Arizona stand out in the worldwide competition for capital investment and corporate relocation.
“I Believe in Arizona’s Future”
The result: Arizona now ranks #1 nationally for entrepreneurs, according to the Kauffman Index, and CEO Magazine said Arizona is among the Top 10 states in which to do business. Financially, the State budget went from a $3 billion shortfall to an $800 million surplus in just four years.
Whatever challenges lay ahead, Governor Brewer is confident the people of Arizona are up to the task. Her words from the 2010 State of the State address still ring true:
“As we gather today, our still-young state is challenged as never before. I know we will meet this challenge. I believe in Arizona’s future. I believe in our strength. I believe in our goodness. And I believe in our Grace.”