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Longview City Council places alcohol sales, filing fee on May ballot

By Richard Yeakley
Feb. 14, 2013 at 10 p.m.

Voters will decide on citywide beer and wine sales for Longview and candidacy requirements to run for office when they cast their ballot May 11.

The Longview City Council placed two city-wide elections on the May ballot Thursday. The first is a local option election to allow "beer and wine sales for off-premise consumption," and the second to require a $100 filing fee or 25 signatures to apply to run for office and an increased residency requirement.

The alcohol proposition was called after the signatures of more than 5,300 Longview voters on petitions were verified by City Secretary Shelly Ballinger.

An identical proposition was defeated in 2007; however, Kimberly Fish, a spokeswoman for Longview United for Growth, the organization behind the initiative, said the dynamics of the city have changed since then, and several key opponents of the 2007 measure are no longer in the city.

The second vote, to adjust the requirements to run for office, passed with a 5-2 vote, with council members Kasha Williams and Richard Manley voting against it.

Branden Johnson, president of the Longview NAACP, presented 13 points against the potential charter change while urging the City Council not to call an election he said would disenfranchise Longview residents.

At one point Johnson called the proposal the antithesis of democracy.

Mayor Jay Dean fired back that allowing voters to vote on the proposed change was democratic, allowing Longview residents to decide.

"It deserves to be considered by the voters. In a democracy, the voters decide whether we do this or not. The only thing we are talking about doing is putting it to the voters," Dean said.

The proposed charter changes would require anyone applying to run for city office to pay a $100 filing fee or gather 25 signatures on a petition. It would also require candidates to live in the district they wish to represent for a full year before the election. Currently candidates must live in their district for at least six months.

The change in the city's charter must be approved by the Department of Justice; however, Longview residents can vote on the changes in May, and if accepted by the voters, the policy would go into effect if approved by the Department of Justice.



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