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'Strong learning curve' has Lawson undaunted in new role

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (center) joins the group of Debbie Winger, Susan Crosby, Gail Smith and Susan Price on the tee of the par 3 11th hole at Clover Meadows Golf Course. Lawson was present to help kick off the eighth annual Mary Allison Children's Trust Golf Outing. The Secretary of State said she remains friends with Crosby from the time they both spent representing Putnam County residents in the Indiana General Assembly. [Order this photo]
Back in what she described to staffers as "my own backyard," Secretary of State Connie Lawson was on the job but feeling right at home in Putnam County on Friday.

Between meeting with County Clerk Marty Watts at Treasures on the Square, making the rounds at the Putnam County Courthouse and kicking off the Mary Allison Children's Trust at Clover Meadows, the freshman secretary of state was treading familiar ground.

"It's great to come to an area where you're already known," Lawson said. "People here were always so open and gracious and kind to me. I hope they're glad I'm there and can serve them in different ways.

After spending more than 15 years representing parts of Hendricks and Putnam counties as the District 24 State Senator, the Danville resident has moved on to representing the entire state.

She's visited 26 counties in four months at her new post, and said it's nice to visit a place whose generosity she already knows.

"The Mary Allison Children's Trust is a great example of the Putnam County community and how generous and concerned they are. That's one reason I love Putnam County," Lawson said.

Lawson's short time in the secretary of state's office has been hectic. Taking over March 16, she had the dual challenges of replacing the ousted Charlie White and dealing with a primary election less than two months away.

White was found guilty of voter fraud in February, and Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Lawson to the position the following month. She said one of the major functions of her time in office has been team building in the aftermath of the scandal.

"The good news is, there are so many hard-working employees that the day-to-day business was being done," Lawson said of the 80-person staff. "We're well on our way. I'm starting to see some smiles when I walk in the building."

The second challenge was that of the election. However, Lawson felt right at home in her role as elections chief after years as Hendricks County Clerk and on the Senate Election Committee.

"After the first 30 days, which were stressful and hectic, I am starting to enjoy the job a lot," Lawson said.

For his part, the governor was confident in Lawson from the beginning and has no regrets after seeing her performance.

"There's never been a person better prepared for this job, and Connie has shown that she is a tireless worker who hit the ground running from day one," Daniels told the Banner Graphic. "Her work as secretary of state is the seamless continuation of a long and notable career of service to Indiana, and Hoosiers can know that this important office is in great hands."

The seamless continuation has come with what Lawson described as "a strong learning curve." While she had elections knowledge before March, the Elections Division is one of four she oversees.

The education has come in overseeing the Business Services, Securities and Auto Dealers divisions. Lawson says she's enjoyed the challenge.

"Even though I've missed the senate, I feel proud the governor put his trust in me to step up and take this job," Lawson said.

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