McGinnis leaves office after offering a ‘wealth of experience’

Angie McGinnis served as the Oktibbeha County circuit clerk for 16 years. She came back to serve as the interim clerk until after the 2017 special election. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

Angie McGinnis started her long career in the courts serving as the deputy circuit clerk in 1989.

McGinnis said she loved every minute of being in the office because she was told once she finds a job she likes, she will never work a day in her life.

“I loved the interaction with the people, I loved the fact that I could learn things,” McGinnis said.

As time passed, many people in the office encouraged McGinnis to run for the soon-to-be open seat. She knew this could be a chance to make the office what she wanted it to be.

“I could just file the papers and push on,” McGinnis said. “Or I could look into the law and I could find some things that would make it more interesting and that’s what I did.”


Although energetic about throwing her name into the hat for the circuit clerk position, the nerves of the campaign began to settle in because she hated being the center of attention.

“When we bought signs and started putting them up, you would ride along and see ‘Angie McGinnis’ on the side of the road, I would just cringe,” McGinnis said.

Once the butterflies left, McGinnis said meeting all of the people on the trail was welcoming and warming. Residents greeted her and her husband with ice waters and smiles.

“In a way, it was kind of an advantage to the job that if you got it, this is what you’re going to have,” McGinnis said. “It gave you another incentive to do good, because you’d be interacting with them everyday.”

Throughout her campaign, McGinnis said she was excited, but nervous at the same time because she was a younger woman from small town Sturgis, fighting an uphill battle campaigning against a well-known public figure.

“How in the world am I going to gain the name recognition that I would need,” McGinnis said. “I just didn’t know what to expect.”

Even with the open arms on the campaign trail, came daggers from naysayers and negative campaigns saying even though she worked in the office, she really didn’t have any experience.

She said in one letter to the editor, which ran in the newspaper, she has always worked under someone and never lead an office.

“It would just hurt me to my heart,” McGinnis said. “It hurt me, but I’ll tell you what fueled me, I began to get calls from people and they would say “we don’t want you thinking about this, put this out of your mind, all this is going to do is give you more buzz because we are going to get out there and do everything we can.””

After the long stretch of campaigning came election day where nerves, excitement and the fear of failure was on the cusp of conversations.

A packed courtroom with “standing room only” patiently waited for the results. Once precinct results trickled in, McGinnis won by a landslide.

“I could just sit there and say thank you Lord that you’ve allowed us to come this far,” McGinnis said. “You make friends that will last a lifetime and memories that will last a lifetime.”

She said even to this day, people will come into her office and ask if she remembers them. Even if McGinnis does not remember the person’s name, she could remember where they met, whether it was under the shade tree at the park in Maben or out at Hickory Grove by the fire station.

“It’s an incredible feeling, it really is,” McGinnis said.


McGinnis served Oktibbeha County as the circuit clerk for 16 years after coming to the decision to retire from her leadership role.

She said with her recent diagnosis of Pompe’s disease combined with what she accomplished in the office, she felt she had plateaued and did not want to leave the current staff in limbo.

“I did not want to get to the point where I couldn’t give good service,” McGinnis said. “Now’s the time.”

During her time off, McGinnis would come back to the office from time to time to help at any capacity she could. She also worked with the Secretary of State’s office for 18 months with the new voter identification law as well as serving on the board of circuit clerks.

Then after the circuit clerk position became vacant again, she got a call from the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors where she was asked to come fill in until after the special election.

“It was a proud moment when I was asked,” McGinnis said. “They did think enough of my work in the past that they would ask me to step back in.”


Some of McGinnis’ favorite memories come from helping everyone in the office if there were any questions, or if she could assist in any way.

“I have a real mother hen complex,” McGinnis said. “I want to take care of everybody.”

For McGinnis, she said issuing marriage licenses and passports were her absolute favorite part of the job because she saw so much joy and compassion from those who stepped into the office.

“To actually see young people that you had in, say third grade, in the school system and then you look up one day and they’re here to get a marriage license,” McGinnis said. “What joy, that you’re the one that gets to issue that marriage license and your name is going on their marriage certificate.”

McGinnis even issued a marriage license for her own son.

With the happy moments, come the tougher moments with the job.

“There are no winners in court,” McGinnis said. She said with serious crimes on the docket like capital murder, rapes and drug use, many of the people who came into the courtrooms were people she personally knew. She said just knowing the pain of the families suffering weighed heavy on her mind.

The hardest thing for McGinnis to do was to read death warrants in the court. She said she would always try not to show any emotion, but as she got older it became harder. Especially after reading the last one of her tenure.

“For some reason when I read that death warrant I almost broke down and cried,” McGinnis said. “I just think it was a culmination of all the ones that I had read throughout the years and this was probably going to be the last death warrant I would read and it was something about all of them just kind of came through my mind at that time.”


As the newly elected circuit clerk Tony Rook prepares to take office, McGinnis recommends for him to read anything that crosses his desk and to always study orders of the judges, court documents, Attorney General opinions and other codes.

As for advice, McGinnis said she has advice for him and anyone getting ready to take a new job.

“Be still and listen to what people tell you that have gone before or had experience in this because they are going to have some valuable information for you,” McGinnis said. “Take time to learn the job, then once you’ve learned the job, if you want to do things to upgrade the office or make it more efficient then go for it.”

She said as he begins to take his position, she said not to forget the people who put him in this position.

“This office does not belong to the person who sits behind this desk, this office belongs to the tax payers of Oktibbeha County,” McGinnis said.

As McGinnis prepares to leave the office, she said she will continue to serve the county whether it’s through her church or through her quilting club, which donates quilts to many different organizations.

Now with more time to spend with her family and books, McGinnis said her experiences as the circuit clerk will be ones she will always love and remember forever.

“I have been on an awesome adventure that has led me to every pigtail road in Oktibbeha County and it has left me with friends that are so dear to me and it has left me with a wealth of experience in what county government is all about,” McGinnis said.