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Ken Salazar

U.S. Senator / Government Official

Born: 2 March 1955
Birthplace: Alamosa, Colorado
Best known as: U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 2009-present

Name at birth: Kenneth Lee Salazar

Ken Salazar is the former Colorado senator who became U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama in 2009. He heads a vast agency whose bureaus manage water, fish, wildlife, mining, public lands and national parks and maintain federal relationships with American Indians. A cowboy-hatted lawyer, businessman, farmer and rancher, Salazar was elected to the U.S. Senate from Colorado in 2004. A year earlier, as the state's attorney general, he led a well-publicized fight against a ballot measure that would have transferred water across the Rocky Mountains from western Colorado to Denver. He previously served the state as natural resources director (1990-94) and legal counsel to Gov. Roy Romer (1986-90). His ancestors have lived in the American Southwest since the 1500s, before there was a United States or a Mexico -- meaning he is neither an immigrant to the U.S., nor, technically, a Mexican American. He says he has nonetheless experienced the bigotry and discrimination that are sometimes aimed at those groups.

Extra credit: He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Colorado College (1977) and a law degree from the University of Michigan (1981)... He and his wife, Hope, have two daughters, Andrea and Melinda... A Dairy Queen restaurant is among the small businesses he and Hope have operated together.

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