Those who knew long-time public servant Sue Anne “Susie” Misiniec remember the former Johnson County Recorder and Clerk as positive, strong-willed and dedicated.
“She always had a smile on her face. She was strong, determined,” said Trena McLaughlin, county clerk and a friend of Misiniec’s for over 20 years. “Whenever she set her mind to getting something accomplished, she did it.”
Misiniec, 73, died on Jan. 19 at her home in Franklin, the city she called home her whole life. She began her career in Johnson County government in 1985, working in the county’s Planning and Zoning Department.
She later moved to the county recorder’s office, eventually being elected as Johnson County Recorder in 2002 and serving until 2010. As recorder, Misiniec was responsible for preserving public records and the county’s plat map.
“Just the idea that I could be a part of preserving those documents is fascinating,” Misiniec told the Daily Journal in November 2002, when she was running for the office. “There has been quite a legacy since the first recorder was elected more than 100 years ago. I want to be part of perpetuating that legacy and maintaining that history.”
After serving two terms as recorder, Misiniec decided to run for Johnson County Clerk in 2010. Before she announced, she did take a moment to ask McLaughlin — then a deputy clerk — about her own political aspirations.
“Susie came to me and said, ‘If you want to run for clerk, I will not stand in your way. I won’t run against you. You should be the one running,” McLaughlin remembered. “I said, ‘Now I’m not going to do that, I would love for you to be the clerk.’”
Misiniec was elected as clerk twice, serving until her retirement at the end of 2018, when McLaughlin succeeded her.
As clerk, Misiniec spearheaded the implementation of early voting in Johnson County. She also was instrumental in implementing a voter center plan for Johnson County before the 2012 presidential election — the first change to the county’s voting process in over 150 years.
This was a campaign promise of hers. She told the Daily Journal in 2010 it would make elections more efficient and save taxpayers money. After the change was approved by the county’s election board, Misiniec was excited for the changes to be put in place.
“I’m real excited about it, but I want it to be done right. The worst thing we can do is do this poorly and be disorganized and make voters disgruntled,” she told the Daily Journal in 2011.
Working under Misiniec, the clerk’s office was fun, McLaughlin said. Officials had a job to get done, and Misiniec made it fun with a smile, she said.
“We had a laugh every day, no matter what the day was,” she said. “No matter what issues we had, we always had a laugh and I’ll always remember that.”
Misiniec really cared about the voters, and McLaughlin believes she wanted to make sure every voter had their voices heard. The changes she helped implement are an example of that, McLaughlin said.
One of the most challenging moments of Misiniec’s career came near the end: an Election Day system failure in November 2018. It had left hundreds of voters waiting for as many as three hours to vote.
The failure, ultimately determined to be a connection error with poll books from the county’s election vendor that checked in voters, was not something Misiniec could have anticipated or prevented, she said a few days after the incident. She apologized for the issues.
“We’re truly, truly sorry. We obviously wish it hadn’t happened,” Misiniec said.
The county later terminated the contact with the vendor and switched to a new one where few problems have been reported since.
After her term in office ended in 2018, Misiniec continued to work at the clerk’s office part-time. When McLaughlin started her term as clerk and had questions about election processes or other office items, Misiniec was there to answer them, she said.
Misiniec was a really special woman who despite challenges with her health over the years, stayed positive through it all, said Beth Boyce, Johnson County GOP chairperson. Boyce had gotten to know Misiniec over the years not only as party chair, but also as a member of the county’s Republican Women’s Club and as a former Johnson County Council member.
“She chose to always see the good,” Boyce said. “I think that’s something a lot of us could model.”
Misiniec had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Even as she received treatment and dealt with the treatment’s effects, she never complained and continued to be positive, Boyce said.
“I just really admire that. I’ve always admired that,” she said.
Boyce described Misiniec as the perfect example of someone who was dedicated, always showed up and was willing to help.
“Susie was very reliable. She always showed up and she always followed through,” Boyce said.
Both the women’s club and county party members are going to miss Misiniec’s positivity and resiliency. Boyce is going to miss her support and friendship.
“All of us will just greatly miss her positive attitude, her dedication, her commitment,” Boyce said. “She’ll leave that legacy though, in all the organizations that she was involved in.”
For McLaughlin, Misiniec was not only her boss but also a great friend.
“I truly think that her legacy is that she was a great clerk and she’ll be missed by all of us,” McLaughlin said.
In Misiniec’s obituary, her family asked that memorial contributions be made to the Johnson County Fair Association, 250 Fairground St., Franklin, IN 46131, or the Franciscan Alliance Foundation, Attention: Franciscan Health Cancer Center Indianapolis, 5255 E. Stop 11 Road, Suite 245, Indianapolis, IN 46237 or at www.franciscanhealthfoundation.org.