A political action committee has filed election paperwork to campaign against beer and wine sales in Tyler and Justice of the Peace Precinct 2.
Michael Daniels, pastor at Landmark Baptist Church, who is listed as the assistant campaign treasurer on the group’s campaign finance report, said a grassroots effort to defeat the measure has begun.
Daniels said he has lived in Tyler most of his life and that alcohol sales will be a detriment to the city’s wholesome, unique identity. He said alcohol is a drug, one that is involved in serious social problems including driver-related deaths, and that residents should reject its slow-but-steady, progressive introduction to Smith County.
“We don’t want it in here in Tyler and will do what it takes to defeat it,” he said.
Daniels said he has no ties to outside interests and leads one of several local churches expected to lead opposition.
In Precinct 2, which includes unincorporated areas surrounding southern Tyler, Flint, Noonday and Bullard, the group is seeking the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption and mixed-beverage sales for restaurants.
Portions of Tyler, Flint, Noonday and Bullard within or surrounded by JP Precinct 2 will become wet if the proposal passes there, said Tyler’s Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Agent Shane Krajewski.
Off-premise consumption means a person can walk into a grocery or convenience store and buy beer or wine to consume elsewhere.
Proponents of alcohol sales seek about 7,800 signatures from Tyler registered voters and another 6,700 from those in JP 2 before the measure can be put on November ballots.
Registered voters who live within the overlapping portions of JP Precinct 2 and the city limits of Tyler can sign all four petitions.
Laura Krantz, of Krantz PR, a spokeswoman for Buy Local First, said the group is in the process of verifying signatures, which will be turned in by the June 25 deadline.
“Support was not a problem,” she said, regarding signature collection.
Buy Local First committee member Bob Westbrook said he expected opposition to form but that support for the petitions has been “overwhelming.”
Westbrook said he believes the measure will pass when the community realizes alcohol sales will benefit the local economy and reduce alcohol-related incidents, especially driver-related fatalities.
In response to the opposition’s likely acceptance of money from alcohol retailers, Westbrook said he hopes businesses invest money in land and lease spaces in preparation of legal sales in Tyler and JP 2.
“I would hope they would be farsighted enough to purchase property or secure lease spaces instead of spending money against something with such overwhelming support,” he said.
Winona, Troup, Alba, Jacksonville, Athens, Henderson, Rusk and Mineola voted in recent years to allow beer and wine sales for off-premise consumption.
Daniels said the group expects to use every campaign method at its disposal to defeat the measure, including television, radio, door-to-door block walks and statistics of their own regarding the negative impacts of alcohol.
Tylerites “are already drinking,” he said. “It started with wine sipping, and wine tastings, then the restaurants started selling, and they won’t stop until they have it in the 7-Elevens and package stores. It’s progressive, it doesn’t stop, but we intend to defeat it.”