3rd District congressional candidate Austin Frerick was the most recent of Democrat hopefuls to pass through Creston in a visit with the Union County Democrats Tuesday morning at the Windrow.
Frerick, a former U.S. Treasury Department economist, is one of six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. He is a seventh-generation Iowan living in Winterset.
Marcia Fulton, former chair of the Union County Democrats, said Frerick was well received by the group.
“A brightness — we’re looking at the bright guy in the room,” Fulton said. “This man talks language that as a reading specialist I never even knew. ... I think he is an extremely bright young man. I think he’s got a great future. So I certainly could get behind him, but then we’ve got such a strong field I think there’s several I could get behind.”
Frerick’s initial comments to the group centered around his campaign platform’s focus — monopoly power. He began with a set of statistics, detailing how online retail powerhouse Amazon’s net worth has grown to more than Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and a slew of other retailers combined.
Frerick uses as a “campaign prop” a Monopoly board game. He said he was actually forced to purchase the game through Amazon, ironically, because no retailers in his home of Madison County even sold it in store.
“This is why I think economic concentration is the biggest issue of our time,” Frerick said. “It’s why we’re living in a second Guilded Age. ... We’ve been here before. We’ve been in these moments of excess as a country. And it’s usually the darkest — it’s usually when we have the most progressive change after, if we seize it.
“The thing about the monopoly is it’s just not obvious at first,” Frerick continued. “You go to the Fareway, Hy-Vee in town, and one company will sell 47 percent of your pet food. Another company will sell 73 percent of your baby food. By the way — same company. Nestle. ... We’ve got to start thinking about what’s next.”
Frerick went on to give more examples of modern American monopolies, explaining the effects on rural communities.
“That’s the hardest part of this,” Frerick said. “The 3rd District is the richest part of Iowa — you have Johnston — and you have some of the poorest parts of Iowa. And we have some of the world’s best soil around you. Yet more and more, every year, our poverty goes up.”
Frerick said he is running on the promise to break up corporate and ag concentration. He will be returning to Creston for another campaign visit 9 a.m. April 7 at the Windrow.
The primary race
David Young (R), first elected in 2014, is the 3rd District’s incumbent. Challenging him will be one of six Democratic hopefuls — Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro, Austin Frerick, Theresa Greenfield, Paul Knupp or Eddie Mauro.
The candidate filing deadline is Friday, and the primary election will be held June 5. The general election will take place Nov. 6.
Fulton said the Union County Democrats are currently in the process of organizing a debate or candidate forum for the Democrat hopefuls to be held sometime mid-April at the Creston restored Depot.
Does Fulton believe the race to be close?
“I think it is. We’re down to six candidates in that race now. ... I think it’s going to be a really contentious race — but they’re not doing it in an angry way. They’re talking about issues, talking about their visions for the county, and that pleases me. I really appreciate that.
“There’s so much going on right now,” Fulton concluded, “and it is so crucial that we make a run at the House, and maybe get some of these changes that have been put in somehow negated with some that are caring more about people, not corporations. I’d be thrilled to see it.”