County Clerk Oakley Retiring to Take Position with Clinton Campaign

Freddie Oakley in 2013 holds up a marriage certificate
Freddie Oakley in 2013 holds up a marriage certificate

Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters/Assessor Freddie Oakley has announced she will be retiring at the end of this month to take a position in the Clinton campaign, according to a release from the county. Ms. Oakley has served in the position since 2002.

Freddie Oakley began her career with Yolo County in 1987 as Chief Deputy Public Guardian/Public Administrator.  Between 1991 and 1999, she held positions with the California Public Utilities Commission, California Legislator Burt Margolin and Helyne Meshar & Associates.

In 1997, she was appointed by Gov. Wilson to fill the seat vacated by Yolo County Supervisor Helen M. Thomson who was elected to the California State Assembly. Oakley served the remainder of that term and then was appointed Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters in 1999 under Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Tony Bernhard.

Upon his retirement, Oakley ran for and was elected Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters and has served Yolo County in that capacity since 2002.  In 2015, she took on the additional responsibility of Assessor.

“It has been an honor and a joy to work for and with the people of Yolo County since 1987,” said Freddie Oakley.  “When I left for a few years to work at the state level, I was amazed at how much I missed the county, and was thrilled when I had an opportunity to return.  All of the many staff that I have worked with here have been terrific colleagues.  I know that I am leaving these departments in the hands of capable, dedicated workers who know their jobs perfectly and do them with enthusiasm.”

Ms. Oakley is probably best known for her advocacy for same-sex marriage. On Valentine’s Day in 2007, she made regional headlines by issuing couples with a “Certificate of Inequality.”

“I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you,” the document read in part, “Because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality.”

“This is my fifth year as county clerk and the fifth year in which I will be refusing marriage licenses to people of the same gender,” Ms. Oakley said at the time. “It gets harder every year.”

“I had already been county clerk for a number of years and I took it upon myself to be the person who addresses folks who came to demonstrate on Valentine’s Day,” Freddie Oakley told the Vanguard in 2013 after same-sex marital rights were restored, noting that most county clerks would simply hide away in their offices rather than face the protesters.

Oakley Marriage Protest
Freddie Oakley presents Certificate of Inequality on February 14, 2007

Because she was going to be the person to say no, she wanted to demonstrate to the best of her ability that she respected the right for everyone, regardless of gender, to marry the person of their choosing.

So she created what she called a “Certificate of Inequality,” which would be issued to any same-sex couple seeking to get married on February 14, 2007.

In retrospect, she said, “Strangely I thought… that if it had a chance of offending anyone it would offend gay couples.  I was afraid that they would think that I was chastising them for being unequal.”

For her efforts she was demonstrated and protested against.  The downstairs section by the County Clerk’s Office was jammed with a long line of people waiting to get their certificates. Outside was a modest group of people who had come to protest this action by Ms. Oakley. Perhaps 40-50 people carried signs saying, “Everyone has an equal right to Marriage, Just follow the rules.”

Times changed fast.

“I would have to say that when I joined the protest in 2007, I thought we were in for a much longer haul,” she said.  “I thought it would be a lot more time necessary for this work.”

“It’s astonishing to me how fast the sort of tide of culture has changed to accept marriage equality,” she said.  She gives huge credit to individuals and organizations that have helped to make this happen.

“In a way it boils down to respect for the law,” she said.  “Because folks have really gone through the process available to any American or group of Americans who want to challenge the status quo.  They have used every peaceful reasonable means.”

Freddie Oakley chats with activists Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac along with West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon on February 14, 2007
Freddie Oakley chats with activists Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac along with West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon on February 14, 2007

“I did not think we’d see a payoff this soon, but I really give all of the credit in the world to all of the folks who did not give up the fight,” Ms. Oakley added.

Freddie Oakley recalled, “I got calls from people all over the United States who wanted to tell me I was going to hell.”

“I got requests from all over the world from people who wanted a certificate of inequality,” she added.  “I sent them to everyone who asked for them.  I bought stamps with my own money, I bought copy paper with my own money.  I kept the receipts to demonstrate that everything had been done on my own expense.”

Now it’s Freddie Oakley’s time to take her next step. Along with a position with the Clinton campaign, Ms. Oakley said in the press release, “I look forward to having time to spend with my husband of nearly 50 years who is now an emeritus professor and actually has time to spend with me.”

“For almost three decades, in a variety of capacities, Freddie Oakley has served the people of Yolo County,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Rexroad. “She is impassioned about what she’s done and we honor her for her amazing public service.”

The Board of Supervisors is charged with filling the vacated seat of Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters/Assessor.  An interim will likely be named during the December 15 Board of Supervisors meeting and a process evaluated for making an appointment to fill the remaining three years of the four-year term.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Barack Palin

    Ms. Oakley is probably best known for her advocacy for same-sex marriage. 

    So she’s going to go work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign who was against gay marriage until she fairly recently decided it was politically advantageous for her to be for gay marriage?

      1. PhilColeman

        Palin was more likely responding to “best known” (your description) rather than “single-issue individual” (also yours). This poster is not usually at a loss for words, no need to assist.

    1. Tia Will


      So she’s going to go work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign who was against gay marriage until she fairly recently decided it was politically advantageous for her to be for gay marriage?”

      Please correct me if I am in error, but on another thread you related how after a conversation with your wife about gun safety, you had arrived at what seemed to be a new position for you. You stated that you had come to the conclusion that no average citizen needed a certain type of weapon. I think that this is a normal human process. We are reasoning beings and are capable of changing our minds on issues when new information is obtained or the same facts seen from a different perspective. To me, this is the hallmark of a rationale reasoning human being.

      It would seem to me that you would deny Ms. Clinton the very reasonable option of changing her mind. You have decided that she did this only for political advantage, when in fact it would seem that the majority of the American public have been making this very same change over the same amount of time as their own family members, close friends and work colleagues have “come out” in increasing numbers and fear of “the other” and religious based preferences have decreased.

        1. Tia Will


          Of course she is politically driven. She is running for President for heaven’s sake. Is that any different from any other of the “professional politicians ” running for office ?

          One could also say that she is “power driven” as is Trump and all of the other candidates with the possible exceptions of Carson and Sanders. To run for President, one has to be willing to accept, if not eager for, huge amounts of power.

          The problem that I see is the inconsistency of thought. I do not know what candidate you prefer, but if one digs far enough, I am sure that by the time a major political player gets to the presidential level, you will find some changes of position in their background regardless of party or ideologic affiliation. Hilliary’s will be much more visible because she has been scrutinized for so long. But they will all have changed position at some time. And if they have never changed position, then I question their ability as a rationale human being for the reasons I stated previously.

        2. Matt Williams

          BP said … “Oh please, Hillary is so politically driven she has to take a poll to decide which side of the bed she has to get up on in the morning. She only changes her position if she thinks it will win her votes. It has nothing to do with her true beliefs.”

          BP, your comment illuminates one of the serious flaws of the current American political landscape. Moderates from both political parties are regularly the target of criticisms like yours. The polar ends of the political spectrum, both Left and Right, are quick to attempt to marginalize any efforts to “listen” to the citizens. “In your heart, you know he’s right” has taken on a whole new meaning since it was most actively used in the 1964 Presidential Campaign . . . and it has been thoroughly matched by its twin “In your heart, you know he’s left.” Nobody on the polar ends of the political spectrum uses their ears to listen to others’ beliefs. Only their mouths to dictate what someone’s “true beliefs” ought to be.

  2. Tia Will

    Ms. Oakley stands as a wonderful example of personal integrity in our community. Truly inspirational ! Freddie, I wish you all the best in your retirement and all of your future endeavors.

    1. Miwok

      I thought she had integrity, that is what I was told by some people who have been in the community for a long time. But when I walked in and asked questions to learn more about the voting process, not only would she not answer questions, neither would her staff.

      I was a fan until I walked into the office to ask questions… Now I hope she does not have all the CA voter rolls at home on her personal computer. I would hope the story about integrity is true.. Not from my experience..

  3. Jim Leonard

    Freddie Oakley is inspiring. It saddens me she is wasting her time campaigning for that fraud Hillary Clinton. Freddie has some sense of morality–unless I’ve been fooled. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, does not. How disappointing!

      1. Davis Progressive

        while i will not vote for hilary, i know a lot of women who feel the same about a woman president as blacks felt about a black president.  and before you ask, most of them are on the left and wouldn’t not vote for a woman republican.  in other words, they would vote for the democrat first, but within the democratic camp, a woman.

  4. SODA

    I agree with all the positives in the article and comments and am proud of her stand over the years and her enthusiasm shown to poll workers during training

    However I wonder why retire only 1 year into a 4 year term? Do we know what position she has with the Clinton campaign?

    Interim and replacements will be appointed not elected? Doesn’t she have an assistant who is a relative?

    I seem to remember that from the last election.

  5. Cecilia EscamillaGreenwald

    Congratulations Freddie! You’ve done a fabulous job as our Yolo County Clerk/Recorder! You leave a legacy of an extremely dedicated Clerk/Recorder.

    I wish you all the best on the HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT Campaign 🙂

    Please let your office know that the kids and I LOVE the “Kids Vote” materials that you and your office provide.  Jasmine is now 6 and Jeremiah is 4 and both have voted in every election since the age of 2 🙂  Malachi is 12 and has voted in every election since the age of 7!

    It may sound trivial to some, but it’s important for kids to understand and appreciate the importance of having a voice and voting. After all, kids are our future and voter turnout is so dismal nowadays.  When we were kids my mom always stressed the importance of voting, so my siblings and I grew up understanding the importance of voting. We may be all over the political spectrum (Democrat, Republican, Independent and Decline to State) but we vote!

    Best wishes and blessings to you and your husband Freddie! Thank you for your years of service!

  6. Tia Will


    What a great story about your kids involvement in Kids Vote. I did not even know that this existed. I did however take my kids to the polls with me each time I voted and made sure that they knew just how much importance I place on voting.

  7. David Greenwald

    I learned something else interesting yesterday – Freddie Oakley has a connection to the Clintons.  It appears that her husband went to Yale Law School with the Clintons.  He graduated in 1972 and the Clintons both graduated from there in 1973.

  8. Tia Will


    She only changes her position if she thinks it will win her votes.  It has nothing to do with her true beliefs.”

    I know that to be your belief. However, I doubt that you are privy to the inner workings of Ms. Clinton’s mind anymore than anyone else other than Ms. Clinton herself.


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