Six weeks into her position job as Indiana's Secretary of State, Connie Lawson is fully aware of the public relations job that lies ahead of her. There are fences to be mended and public relationships and trust to be restored in the office she now holds.
Lawson was appointed to her new position by Gov. Mitch Daniels on March 16 to succeed fellow Republican Charlie White, who was removed for office after his conviction on a charge of voter fraud.
So Lawson has embarked on a statewide tour in an attempt to introduce herself to county officials and to assure them that the Secretary of State's office is indeed in good hands. She visited Adams County last week, spending time with Adams County Clerk Gayla Reinhart, Prosecuting Attorney Chris Harvey and Recorder Connie Moser. Auditor Bill Borne took her on a tour of the county courthouse and Superior Court building to introduce her to county employees and office-holders.
Lawson also spoke to fellow Republicans later that evening at the county GOP's annual Lincoln Day dinner.
She served as an Indiana state senator since 1996. Until her appointment as Secretary of State, Lawson was chair of the local government and joint rules committees and authored a bill this year to reduce nepotism and eliminate conflicts of interest. She also spent six years as the chair of the Senate Elections Committee.
During a visit to the Daily Democrat office, Lawson said her office was ready to oversee the May 8 primary election. She'd already cast her own ballot — in the precinct in which she resides, unlike her predecessor — and planned to spend Election Day by visiting the seven Indiana counties which have established countywide vote centers.
Lawson bemoaned the "disappointingly low" voter turnout that Indiana has experienced in recent years and urged residents to visit the website Indianavoters.com to learn where to vote and to see a list of candidates and elected officials in each of Indiana's 92 counties.
Lawson's current term will expire in 2014, and she said without hesitation that she will seek her own four-year term at that time.
"We need continuity in that office, and that's something I desire to do," she said.