Both sides on the Fremont immigration ballot initiative say the issue will linger, even after the votes have been counted.
Fremont voters soundly rejected a proposed change to the ordinance they approved nearly four years ago. Just shy of 6,500 voters went to the polls during the special election Tuesday. Dodge County election officials report approximately 3,850 votes were cast against the initiative with about 2,600 cast in favor.
The ballot initiative would have stripped provisions in the ordinance that prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. It would have left alone provisions that require Fremont businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to determine the legal status of their workers.
Paul Von Behren with the group “Our Vote Should Count” says he’s pleased a solid majority of voters rejected the change.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased that we’ve won and that it was a substantial majority,” Von Behren tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KHUB.
Von Behren says the fight likely isn’t over. He says the question remains whether the city council will take the lead and enforce the ordinance or will continue to challenge it.
Virginia Meyer with the group “Fremont, Yes” had hoped for a different outcome.
“We are disappointed, because this means that Fremont will continue to have financial issues for taxpayers and challenges regarding our reputation,” Meyer tells KHUB.
Though disappointed with the results, Meyer says the campaign brought a lot of groups together in Fremont and spawned a lot of talk about immigration. She says there is still work to be done.
Latina Laura Martinez, brought to Fremont as a young child, tells KHUB legal immigrants in the city attempted to rally support for change.
“I’m pretty sad about it,” Martinez says, “because there are people who have citizenship, they tried their best, calling people to let them know when a vote was going to be.”
Connie Green, KHUB, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Connie Green reports [:33]