MERIDEN — Longtime Meriden resident Millie Torres-Ferguson was sworn in as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday evening.
She is the first Latina to be appointed to the role.
Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz administered Torres-Ferguson’s oath at Taino Smokehouse Prime restaurant, where she was celebrated with friends, family and a who’s who of Meriden public officials.
Bysiewicz noted Torres-Ferguson’s longtime collaboration with elected officials. She asked the room to raise their hands if Torres-Ferguson had helped them. Over half of the room raised their hands, including state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, and Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati.
“This was a very easy decision for Gov. Lamont and I to make because Millie has served our state so well, literally for her entire professional career,” Bysiewicz said.
Bysiewicz also highlighted Torres-Ferguson’s long commitment to public service in several institutions, including the state legislature, executive branch, and as the DMV’s legislative director for six years.
“She is a person with great passions. She is hardworking. She speaks Spanish. She is one of the smartest, competent people I know. She is a woman that makes things happen for people,” Bysiewicz said.
She added that bringing more diversity to the commissioners was a priority for the administration and said that about half of Connecticut commissioners were women and a third people of color.
This appointment is not the first time Torres-Ferguson has made Connecticut history. She was elected chairwoman of the Meriden Democratic Town Committee in 2005, becoming the first Latina to be elected town chair in both Meriden and the state.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona made a special appearance and emphasized his respect for Torres-Ferguson and her ongoing efforts to serve the Meriden community.
“What I respect most about Millie is that she has been influential to so many people’s professional trajectories, including my own,” he said. “She never seeks the limelight; she's just working hard because she believes in us.”
After being sworn in, Torres-Ferguson thanked her family, friends, colleagues and mentors.
During the reception, attendees drank wine and ate grilled entrees. The swearing-in ceremony felt more like a party than an official event as attendees congratulated Torres-Ferguson and gave her warm hugs, flowers and cards.
Torres-Ferguson said she was grateful for all those who had spent their Friday night celebrating with her and that she had some new ideas for the DMV moving forward.
“I'm just excited to get in there and get to work,” she said.
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.