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Dry area of Longview voted no to alcohol sales expansion

By Richard Yeakley
May 20, 2013 at 10 p.m.

With one exception, voters in every Longview district favored a May 11 ballot proposition to expand citywide the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption.

The lone holdout was the Greggton area, where District 1 voters narrowly turned thumbs down to the measure. It is one of the areas where such sales were prohibited.

Voters in the birthplace of Go West Longview and Longview United for Growth - the district where supporters of Proposition 1 said they first saw the need to expand alcohol sales - rejected the measure by seven votes, 247 to 240.

"For" votes in the district outweighed "against" votes 129-119 during early voting. But 126 votes against the measure on election day swung the district's total against passage.

The campaign to pass Proposition 1 was initiated this past year after members of the grassroots group began questioning why an empty grocery building at the intersection of Loop 281 and Gilmer Road was unable to attract a new tenant. After study, members said the inability to offer alcohol for sale was a key factor, said Kimberly Fish, spokeswoman for Go West Longview.

Go West raised $74,000 to help support the proposition's passage.

Support for the proposition in Longview's other districts easily overwhelmed the slight opposition of District 1.

The final tally revealed, <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-voters-easily-approve-alcohol-proposition/article_c82feee1-2587-5a02-8f29-95fb3cd3579e.html">2,022 votes in favor of Prop 1</a> while 1,181 voted against it, for a margin of 63 percent in favor to 37 percent opposed.

In Districts 2 and 3, where there were no City Council elections and alcohol sales were already permitted, only 161 and 133 voters turned out respectively.

Both districts supported Proposition 1, with District 2 casting 58 percent of its support for the measure and nearly 70 percent of District 3 voters casting ballots in favor.

The 465 voters in District 4 who cast a ballot voted more than two-to-one to approve alcohol sales.

Although the message of proponents focused on the dry areas of North and West Longview, a portion of District 4, the part of the city in Harrison County, also was dry before the election.

Voters in District 5, driven to the polls in part by a heated race for Spring Hill ISD board of trustees, also voted widely in favor of the proposition.

Of the 962 votes cast from District 5, 593, or 62 percent, approved alcohol expansion.

More than 1,000 voters cast ballots in District 6, with 68 percent favoring expansion.

City Secretary Shelly Ballinger said Monday that some stores in the formerly dry areas already have begun the process of applying for a permit to sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption.

As of Monday, 10 applications had been submitted to the City of Longview. The city permit is the first of several steps, which also include obtaining Gregg County and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission approval.



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