The potential construction of a poultry plant and the nearby farms to support it can often be divisive for the community in which the plant will be housed.
Usually, some people will welcome the new plant and its workers with open arms for its economic benefits to the area. Others will oppose it, citing worries about odors, water quality, increased traffic, among others.
Like the regular citizens, elected officials making decisions for those communities and candidates seeking to replace them, will also often have opposing views.
But in reading articles from the Fremont Tribune in Fremont, Nebraska, the differences in viewpoints in a proposed poultry plant in Fremont seem to be few. It appears all of the candidates hoping to be elected on November 8 that the newspaper has interviewed this far seem to be in agreement when it comes to the proposed Lincoln Premium Poultry plant, that if it gets the necessary regulatory approvals, would process chicken to be sold at Costco stores.
Fremont is part of Nebraska’s 15th legislative district. The incumbent state lawmaker, David Schnoor, is being challenged by Lynne Walz.
Schnoor said he favors the construction of the plant, calling it a major economic boon for Nebraska. He acknowledges that there will be “growing pains” that would come with the plant if it becomes a reality, but adds “those issues will have to be dealt with as they come along.”
Walz said she favors any agricultural business coming to Fremont. She adds that infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate the plant, specifically highways, would give the Fremont region an opportunity to market its ag business to outside states, and that opportunity should be seized.
Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman is being challenged by political newcomer Diane Brown. Getzschamn has held the office since 2010.
The incumbent calls the proposed poultry plant an opportunity that “comes to a community once in a lifetime” and with a potential $1.2 billion impact on the local economy, Fremont must take full advantage of the opportunity.
He advocates working on housing development to accommodate the workforce.
Brown, while supportive of the project and the positive economic impact it could have on the community, is a little more cautious. She said if elected, she would hold the involved companies accountable, should problems arise.
Fremont City Council
In the Fremont City Council – Ward 2 race, candidates Dev Sookram and Susan Jacobus, neither an incumbent but both with governmental experience, had responses that nearly mirrored each other. Both told the newspaper that if the plant is built, it will not only create new jobs, but also will provide a trickle-down effect, benefitting other Fremont businesses – present and future.
In the council’s race for Ward 4, both candidates Matt Bechtel and Jordan Paden also said they support the proposed plant.
Paden praised Costco, saying it has gone “above and beyond” what he thinks the company needs to do. Bechtel, while apprehensive at first, is also now a supporter after Costco reached out to him and answered questions. Bechtel adds he will continue asking questions.
It does seem refreshing in such a contentious election cycle that candidates for the most part seem so unified on this project. It would be tough, however, to oppose a project that would add 1,100 jobs and provide opportunities for another 75-100 growers.
Hopefully, they all mean what they say. Just as several candidates said they will hold Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry accountable, Fremont voters will need to hold whomever they elect accountable as well.