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Two Candidates Vie For Wake Superior Court Clerk Position

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Every year, 200,000 cases come through 24 Wake County courtrooms. The Wake County Clerk of Superior Court is charged with managing it all. This year, for the first time ever, two women are vying for the important job.

As a lawyer with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, Democrat Lorrin Freeman knows her way around a courtroom. She hopes this experience will translate into a successful bid for the Superior Court Clerk position on Nov. 7.

"I believe people meet government most directly face-to-face within the court system, and it's important that they find a system that's easy to navigate," Freeman said.

Freeman's opponent, Republican incumbent Jan Pueschel, has been criticized for her lack of diplomacy and for turnover in her office. She said she fired some employees in the beginning of her tenure, but also said the office is now stabilized and much more productive.

Freeman said she wants to create better relationships with judges and attorneys, add new technology, and improve morale among the office's 117 employees.

"Unfortunately, there has been a management style that has not adequately supported the employees," she said.

Pueschel sees it differently.

"What we just tried to do is to get everybody to work eight hours," Pueschel said, "the folks that were coming in late and leaving early. The people who were…sleeping under their desks, selling Avon from the courtroom, we stopped all of that."

Pueschel said she has dramatically improved services for domestic-violence victims and has also streamlined daily operations.

"The people of Wake County understand that they want someone who gets the job done, and if you take a look at my record, I have 13 pages of accomplishments on my Web site," Pueschel said. "I've gotten the job done."

Pueschel has said Freeman is riding on the coat tails of her politically connected father, a top aide to the governor.

"I am very committed to serving in this position, and if I'm elected, I will serve my entire term," said Freeman. "So I want to start by putting that rumor to rest."

"If you can't say, 'I can do it better' and be specific about what you can do better, than it appears to me all you want to do is get the incumbent out based on political reasons," Pueschel said.

Freeman said that she's proud to have support across party lines in her bid for the office.

"This is actually not a partisan cry for a change," said Freeman. "I would say it's a bipartisan cry for a change."

In the past, the clerk's race hasn't gotten much attention, so candidates haven't raised much money. This year is different. Freeman says she has raised more than $100,000. Pueschel wouldn't say how much she's raised to this point, but her most recent disclosure filing from June shows she raised $41,000.