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Democrats Compete To Run For Wake County Clerk Seat

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RALEIGH, N.C. — With the primary election just weeks away, two Democrats are vying for a chance to run against Wake County's Republican incumbent for the office of Clerk of Superior Court.

Raleigh attorney Mark Perry and Lorrin Freeman, a lawyer with the state attorney general's office, are competing for the Democratic nomination for the position, now filled by Jan Pueschel, whose tenure in office has been marked by controversy.

As an attorney in Raleigh for 19 years, Perry has dispensed plenty of advice, but he thinks as the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court, he could be even more valuable.

"I think the people of Wake County do deserve better than they're getting right at this moment," he said.

What they are getting is Pueschel, the first woman and first Republican to hold the post. She will not comment on the November race until she learns who her opponent will be.

Pueschel has been praised by some for making the office more efficient, but she has been criticized by others for what they call a temperamental management style.

"I would bring a style of management here that would give the people of Wake County the respect they deserve," said Perry, who lost to Pueschel in November 2002.

Most voters may not know who the clerk of court is, or even care -- that is, until they have some reason to deal with the court system. Every year, 25 percent of Wake County residents will have some kind of business at the Wake County Courthouse.

"There has been such tremendous turnover, and that causes problems," said Freeman, who comes from a long line of high-profile Democrats, including her father, Franklin Freeman, top aide to the governor.

"At some point in every Wake County citizen's life, they are going to need the services of the Wake County Courthouse. And when they do, they deserve to find a system that is easy to navigate and is customer friendly," Freeman said. "That is not the kind of system we have there now. But it's that kind of office that I'd like to run."

Political consultants estimate it will cost more than $100,000 to run for the seat. Freeman said she has raised about $15,000 to date; Perry estimates he has about $19,000 in his campaign account.