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Former Paris Mayor Jesse James Freelen is seeking the Republican nomination for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 2.
“I think most people who interact with the judicial system will do so through the JP office,” Freelen said. “I can have a positive impact on the people who come through the court system and make a change for the better.”
He faces Gene C. Hobbs, Jr. and Curtis Garrett in the primary. The winner will not have a Democrat challenger.
Freelen has worked for Kimberly-Clark for 25 years in a variety of roles, including logistics, operations, special projects and maintenance. He has also been the emergency response team coordinator for more than 10 years.
This is not his first foray into politics. Freelen was elected to two-year terms on the Paris City Council in 2006 and 2008, representing city council District 3, and served as mayor from 2007 to 2010. He said his experience on the council prepared him for work as a justice of the peace.
“It is the responsibility of the mayor to know the city ordinances — which are the laws of the city — and to enforce those laws,” he said. “My success rate as mayor was really high. We had some racial issues our community was struggling with. I think we handled it really well and our community is better for it.”
Freelen also has experience in community service. That includes participating in the Leadership Lamar County fundraiser Dancing With the Stars, Tour de Paris, Kids Safe Saturday, and the art fair. He has served on Northeast Texas Council of Governments and the Paris Economic Development Corp. board. Freelen is also the current president of Paris EMS Reserves, where he has been a member for about 15 years.
He hopes to extend that service to community relationships. Paris, Reno and county government have not always worked well together, Freelen said. He hopes he can help change that.
“With the relationship I have with those entities, I can help offer mediation between them,” he said. “I think it’s important for the betterment of our community.”
A Paris native, Freelen said he wants to give back to the community.
“Through the court, I can put together programs to help nonprofit organizations with labor resources, as well as being proactive with truancy issues in the schools,” he said. “That’s a big part of the JP’s duties. I think before kids come to you, you know they have a problem and you go to them.”
He and wife Tina Freelen have been married 18 years and have a 13-year-old son, Jake, who is an eighth-grade student at Paris Junior High School.