A week ago, former law enforcement supervisor Freyja Odinsdottir announced she’d be running against Murphree, whom she said has no business wearing the sheriff’s badge.
“Anyone that advocates using violence against innocent people, they don’t really have a place in law enforcement anymore,” Odinsdottir said. “On a purely objective level, that’s what he’s saying: ‘I advocate crime for my own benefit.’”
Although college town Denton is known regionally as a liberal sanctuary in a ruby-red state, its namesake county leans red. A transgender sheriff may be a tough sell for some who hold stalwart conservative values, but Odinsdottir is confident she has a shot at winning in November's election.
In addition to her nearly four years’ experience with the Denton County Jail, Odinsdottir says she served in the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan. She's worked as a bouncer and teaches martial arts, plus a women’s self-defense class, she said. She also just so happens to be a dominatrix and porn actress.
Odinsdottir announced her career in sex work in a post on her campaign’s Facebook page. It never goes well for politicians who try to cover up controversy, she told the Observer, citing the disastrous impeachment of former President Bill Clinton after he lied about having an affair.
"I believe that just being clean and honest with people and transparent, is the best way to go forward,” she said. “And if I’m going to run on a platform and say that that’s what I want to see in law enforcement, then obviously I need to live that life, too.”
Murphree himself is a controversial candidate. He’s faced backlash in recent weeks for refusing to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate. He’s also been accused of withholding functioning masks from inmates at the Denton County Jail, even though many had tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier this summer, Odinsdottir participated in the Black Lives Matter protests on the Denton square, during which she said she was the first person arrested. Shortly after that, she said, multiple politically active locals asked her to run for sheriff, to which she eventually agreed.
Odinsdottir missed the December 2019 window to be listed on the ballot, though, so she’s running as an independent write-in candidate. To help people spell her name correctly, she said she’ll be passing out business cards for them to bring into the voting booth.
“I would like to see Denton County broadly become kind of a beacon and a model of what post-Black Lives Matter law enforcement can look like – what progressive, community-minded law enforcement can look like." - Freyja Odinsdottir
Even if a person misspells a candidate’s name, their vote will still be counted as long as intent can be ascertained, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office said.
Odinsdottir said she’s already won over a few critics but admits there’s a certain subset who refuse to take her seriously. Some people have spewed hatred on her Facebook page, she said, but she’s determined to persevere in her mission to rebuild local law enforcement from the ground up.
“I would like to see Denton County broadly become kind of a beacon and a model of what post-Black Lives Matter law enforcement can look like — what progressive, community-minded law enforcement can look like,” she said.
If elected, Odinsdottir said she'd work to end racial profiling in law enforcement and decriminalize homelessness, low-level drug offenses and prostitution. Too often does law enforcement conflate consensual sex work with human trafficking, she said.
In addition, Odinsdottir said she’ll train police to de-escalate encounters with the public and to recognize when someone is intoxicated versus when they’re in a mental health crisis.
She also said she’ll implement a more rigorous training system for police, complete with higher comprehension standards. She said that in her experience, blind loyalty is rewarded over intelligence.
More than anything, though, Odinsdottir said that she’ll work to regain the trust of residents.
“[People] should be grateful when law enforcement shows up … not worry they’re going to get shot in the back seven times for trying to get in their car,” she said. “I can’t even believe that we live in a world where that’s a thing, but I can see how we got here, and I want to change it. I want to fix it.”