A former Denton County jailer and Marine veteran has filed as a write-in candidate for sheriff against incumbent Tracy Murphree on the November ballot.
Murphree was set to run unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election before 34-year-old Freyja Odinsdottir filed for write-in candidacy in mid-August. Odinsdottir said she hadn’t considered running for sheriff previously but decided to give it a shot after friends suggested she do so because of her background.
“I’ve been a part of the Black Lives Matter movement [in Denton] and have seen more so now the problems inherent to the way the system is set up, the systems of oppression that exist,” Odinsdottir said. “I have some good ideas on how to fix that and a strong desire to want to do something.”
Odinsdottir is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who has lived in Denton County for six years. Job hunting brought her here in 2014, and she went on to work at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office in 2015 as a jailer.
“I was starting to see a pattern [at the jail], starting to see I’m not going to be able to change things the way I had thought I would,” Odinsdottir said. “I got into law enforcement because I wanted to make a difference and protect my community.”
Toward the end of her career at the jail, she said she started to receive “slap on the wrist” disciplinary action after a supervisor accused her of antagonizing other officers and refusing to have her picture taken for Murphree’s legacy book.
In an effort to be transparent with potential voters, Odinsdottir wrote on her Facebook campaign page that she’s a transgender woman and works as a dominatrix and adult entertainment actress.
Odinsdottir’s campaign page also says she stands for decriminalizing homelessness, sex work and minor drug offenses.
She said she also wants law enforcement to return to the nine policing principles of Sir Robert Peel, which include recognizing that officers’ fulfillment of their duties depends on the public’s approval, and using physical force only when persuasion and warning are insufficient.
The deadline for write-in candidates to file for state and county offices in Texas was Aug. 17. Candidates had to fill out a write-in form with the Secretary of State’s Office or county judge along with either a filing fee or nomination petition.
Frank Phillips, the Denton County elections administrator, said write-in candidates are fairly common in the county, especially during presidential election years.
The names of certified write-in candidates will appear on a list at each voting booth when voting starts, Phillips said. The list will have the correct spellings for candidates, but he said misspellings will still count if elections administrators can determine what the intent was.
“Say a write-in candidate’s name is William Smith [who] commonly goes by Bill and [a voter] wrote Bill Smith,” Phillips said. “If we know who they mean, it’ll count.”
Odinsdottir has a little more than two months to campaign and inspire voters in Denton County to cast a ballot for her.
“I think I have a lot of disadvantages,” she said. “A disadvantage as a write-in, as a transgender woman, as a liberal in Texas. Really, not even as a liberal, but as a non-Republican. I didn’t think I’d have a lot of support or backing, but I’ve been proven very wrong.
“A lot of people have crawled out of the woodwork with support,” she said. “There’s got to be something to this if enough people think I’d be good at the job.”
Murphree did not respond to requests for comment by Tuesday afternoon.