Franklin County Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson reached the pinnacle of her career last week in Panama City Beach, as she became president of the statewide organization that encompasses all of her fellow clerks in the state.,
At a banquet June 14 at the Sheraton Bay Point Resort, Johnson was sworn in as president of the Florida Clerks and Comptrollers association by Bradford County Clerk Ray Norman.
Johnson, in her fourth term of office in the third smallest county of the state, now has the responsibility of speaking for the clerks of all of Florida’s 67 counties, from the smallest, Liberty, with just 8,300 people, to the largest, Miami-Dade, with more than 2.6 million.
In her remarks, Johnson began by thanking Norman for his kindness and support, and then shared some background on her career, beginning when she started in the clerk’s office in 1973, when she was a senior at Apalachicola High School.
“In those early years, the thought of running for office never entered my mind,” she said. “I worked for three different clerks with three different styles and approaches to the position. I learned how to do a little bit of everything.”
Johnson shared with the audience, which included 50 of the state’s clerks, her perspective on what it meant to be elected clerk in 2004 in what is likely the thinnest margin of victory for any Franklin County constitutional officer dating back to 1832, when the county was formed from portions of Gadsden and Washington counties
“I won by a very narrow margin - four votes separated me and my opponent. I’ve often said that when I took office, I supposed that every other person who walked through my door did not vote for me, so I challenged myself to be the very best clerk I could be,” she said. “This approach served me well; I was re-elected for three more terms after that.
“I take that same approach to this presidency; I am challenging myself to make this association the strongest and the best it can be,” said Johnson.
The theme of her presidential year is “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success,” and Johnson reached out to her fellow clerks by saying that “ii is with humility that I ask each of you to work honestly and diligently with me and all other clerks this year to bring harmony and increased efficiency to our organization.
“We cannot accomplish our goals without working together. We must be united in our efforts, and I ask that each of you maintain this focus throughout our upcoming challenges and opportunities. We must speak with one voice, and, for that to happen, we must be willing to listen to one another’s concerns and be receptive to new ideas,” she said.
Johnson praised the association staff, and asked for patience and understanding as the organization completes the process of identifying a new CEO. The association is led now by an interim director, Pat Winters, and is governed by the association’s first-ever all-female executive committee, First Vice President Sharon R. Bock (Palm Beach), Second Vice President Stacy M. Butterfield (Polk County). Treasurer Tara Green (Clay County) and Secretary Angel Colonneso (Manatee).
In addition to the three staffers from her office that attended, Lori Hines, administrative assistant; Linda Phillips, finance director; and Nedra Jefferson, criminal division, Johnson acknowledged the many members of her family in attendance, husband Robbie, mother Burnell Martina, sister Monica Lemieux, son Brock, and wife, Kim, and their children, Alexus, Abby and Brody; son, Brett, and wife, Carrie, and their children, Averie and Easton; and son, Brad, and wife, Jamie.
“You all make my life worth living and bring me such happiness and peace,” she said.
Johnson closed by thanking many of her fellow clerks that she’s worked closely with, including Gulf County Clerk Becky Norris and Liberty County Clerk Kathy Brown, and Calhoun County Clerk Carla Hand.
“Our clerks are a dedicated group of people who will always be there for you. You all have my greatest respect,” she said in closing. “It’s an honor to be the next president of our outstanding organization, as. I’m humbled to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you , the best and the brightest public servants in the state.”
Sessions at the conference included topics such as ethics training, recently passed state legislation, technology updates and human resource tips, as well as further training in how to handle court duties such as child support, bail bonds.
The association heard keynote speech’s from former NFL quarterback Tom Flick, an expert on leadership; former Hard Rock International executive Jim Knight, on changes in business culture; and Mack Dryden, a comedic motivator.
On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson hosted a reception at the county courthouse annex, where she was feted by the county’s consituional officers and county commissioners, as well as her friends and family.