James Fleischer first Republican clerk candidate in 12 years

Mar. 04, 2014 @ 08:32 AM

For the first time since 2002, a Republican candidate has chosen to run for the office of clerk of superior court, a post that has been held by a Democrat for at least 51 years.

Lenoir attorney James Fleischer officially entered the race on Feb. 28, the last day to file with the board of elections, and is running against Democrat Kim Clark, who was sworn in as clerk of court in June 2013 after Sandie Cannon retired.

The last time a Republican has challenged the incumbent was in 2002, when Sam Yearick lost to Sandie Cannon. Cannon, who ran unopposed in the 2006 and 2010 elections, was appointed clerk of court in December 1999 when Jeanette Turner, another Democrat, retired. Turner had held the post since 1963.

"I decided to run because I see a great opportunity," Fleischer said Monday. "We have an outdated office. Other offices are movig to e-file systems and paperless files. I want to be a part of these very exciting changes."

Fleischer said that while he is not a typical candidate for clerk of court, he feels his education and background make him a viable candidate. Fleischer, 33, received a bachelor's degree in political science from North Carolina State University and his law degree from North Carolina Central University in Durham. He has been practicing law almost two years.

"It's a judicial position," he said. "My law degree helps me understand statutes. No one should feel entitled to be clerk of court. In America we have elected positions. This is a position where a candidate gets elected. That's what makes a democracy.

"I feel like I have a very good chance."

Clark, embarking on her first election campaign, says her 24 years of experience counts more than party affiliation.

"Politics doesn't come to this office except every four years," Clark said. "They (Republican Party officials) are looking at this as an opportunity to put somebody in that seat. It's not about politics, it's who knows the job and who can serve the people in the best way."