Can't in Canton: 4 of 5 East Texas towns voting on beer, wine sales approve measure

Published on Saturday, 10 May 2014 22:05 - Written by Faith Harper

Beer and wine will soon be readily available in four more East Texas cities after voters gave the green light Saturday at the polls.

Five East Texas cities voted on alcohol propositions, but Canton voters were the only ones to vote the options down.

The East Texas cities that approved alcohol sales were Van, Grand Saline, Gilmer and Quitman.

The ballots were the same in each jurisdiction, with one proposition on allowing the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption and a second for the legal sale of mixed beverages by food and beverages certificate holders.

“It’s very clear that all over East Texas, voters are overwhelmingly approving alcohol sales, and we are really excited about it,” said John Hatch, with Texas Petition Strategies, the company that assisted in getting the propositions on the ballots.

“These elections rarely fail on facts,” he said. “If they fail, they fail on rumor, innuendo and misinformation.”

Grand Saline and Van will join Wills Point in Van Zandt County in selling beer and wine.

Fifty-eight percent, or 509, of Canton ballots were opposed to Proposition 1 to allow beer and wine for off-premise consumption, while 42 percent, or 369 votes, were in favor of the measure.

Proposition 2, allowing for the sale of mixed beverages by food and beverage certificate holders was voted down by 50.9 percent, or 442 votes, compared to 49.1 percent, or 427 votes, in favor of the measure.

“We feel very good about the results and are very thankful it was a grassroots effort by a lot of people that were concerned, and they worked very hard to share their options with their friends and neighbors, and apparently the message was well received, said Max Callahan with the opposition group Concerned Citizens of Van Zandt County.”

Van voters approved Proposition 1 with 52.6 percent versus 47.4 percent against, according to complete but unofficial numbers — with 213 voters approving the measure compared to 192. Proposition 2 passed with 53.2 percent, or 216 votes compared to 46.8 percent, or 190 votes against.

Grand Saline voters approved Proposition 1 with 54.3 percent, or 204 votes compared to 45.7 percent or 172 votes against. Proposition 2 passed with 55 percent, or 204 votes compared to 45 percent or 167 votes against.

Quitman residents will also see the products on their shelves, with 96.5 percent or 216 voters approving Proposition 1 compared to 3.5 percent or 79 voters against it. Proposition 2 passed with 96.4 percent, or 215 votes compared to 3.6 percent or 81 votes against.

Gilmer residents approved Proposition 1 with 78.1 percent or 410 votes compared to 21.9 percent or 115 votes against. Proposition 2 was approved by 78.1 percent of voters or 407 ballots compared to 21.9 percent or 114 votes against.

It could be up to three months before the products appear on shelves, said Carolyn Beck, spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The cities would first have to canvas the votes. Then any establishment would need to apply for a permit in the city, and once the application is approved, it would go to the county and then to the comptroller to ensure the applicant does not owe the state money.

From there the application comes to TABC, which is averaging 40 days to issue permits, Ms. Beck said.