Dec 27, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterFremont County Clerk Julie Freese has decided to return to her political party of origin.
She issued a press release this week stating her intention to run as a Republican next year.
Freese said she registered as a Republican when she turned 18, and she was an independent "for a long time," but she has been a Democrat since she became chief deputy to the county clerk in 1987.
"My predecessor had been a Democrat," Freese said. "I was her deputy, and naturally if you want to take over their position, if something happens to them, you have to be in that party. So I kind of had joined at that time for those reasons."
When she decided to run for office in 1994, a Republican already was in the race, so Freese decided to maintain her Democrat status.
"I was comfortable at that time being with the party," she said. "Those were great people; that's how I viewed it."
Over time, however, she said her opinions did not align with the changing values of the Democratic Party. Freese is vocal about her belief in small government, while she said Democrats throughout the country are moving toward the more socialistic end of the spectrum.
"I get a lot of e-mails from Democrats, and I'm saying things (that seem) in opposition to the e-mails I was getting," she said. "I just feel more comfortable and more aligned to the Republican Party. And I don't think it was fair to the Democratic Party to continue (as a Democrat)."
She has been thinking of returning to the Grand Old Party for about two years, she said.
"I took these last two year to really analyze what my feelings were," she said. "I wanted to talk to some people that were close friends and family."
With a little extra time on her schedule during the holidays, she said she decided to announce her decision this week. Plus, Freese, said, the timing will give Democrats a chance to find a
candidate to run against her next year.
Candidates for the county office file in May.
"I know it's important for (the Democrats) to find people to run," she said. "I thought that was fair for them (to have) plenty of time."
She is confident that she will be successful when she runs for the clerk's seat again as a Republican.
"Being a Democrat for a lot of years, I was the top vote getter in Fremont County," Freese said. "I hope people like how I run the office and how I'm handling their tax dollars. ... I do work for the people of the county, (including) those people not even part of a party."
As Fremont County's chief election officer, Freese said she tries to stay apolitical.
"I want to be honest, fair and transparent," she said. "I believe that can be (done in) either party."
Not much will change in her daily work routine now that she is a Republican, but Freese said she will have to resign from her position on the state's Election Assistance Commission Standards Board, because she now shares the same party as Wyoming's representative to the national EAC board.
"I'm going to miss that," Freese said. "Elections have been my strong point."
Freese went to Wyoming Indian Elementary School and graduated from Lander Valley High School. She attended Casper College for two years, earning her associate degree in 1980. After working summers at the Fremont County Clerk's office, she became elections supervisor in 1982 and then deputy county clerk. She ran for the clerk position in 1994 and has been re-elected four times.
Fremont County's clerk handles vehicle titling, lien filings, land recordings and marriage licenses, elections, voter registration, bookkeeping and payroll.
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