During the final week of early voting, proponents and opponents of local beer and wine sales for the city of Chandler said they are hopeful the public will agree with their respective positions.
The Buy Chandler First committee was formed, and with sponsorship from local businesses, it hired a company that specializes in liquor elections, Texas Petition Strategies.
“We don’t have a lot of businesses in town,” said John Camper, with the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and a committee member. “The convenience stores and Brookshire’s are our two biggest employers. … We saw all of that money leaving our city and going to Tyler.”
Modifying studies to fit the size of Chandler, the chamber estimates an added $6.1 million in yearly sales, $145,000 in sales tax revenue for the city and 62 jobs to be created. He said sales tax dollars going to Tyler could have a large impact on the city’s budget.
Camper said he believes it’s going to be a close vote.
“The enthusiasm — if there is any enthusiasm — it’s very quiet here,” Camper said. “I think it is going to be very, very close, honestly.”
The local propositions are being handled by the city, and during the early voting period, voters have selected their picks for federal, state and county officials in the city’s civic center and walked next door to City Hall to vote on the local liquor options. Camper said he worries having two locations will decrease voter turnout.
“The good thing is one is right next door to another, so hopefully we aren’t losing a whole lot,” he said about turnout, adding the city’s location will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Friday. The civic center voting location will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
City Administrator Jim Moffeit said the city thought the propositions might get lost to voters on the back of the ballot, so it was decided to hold the elections separate in an attempt to facilitate a larger turnout.
Rick Gray, pastor of Chandler’s Faith Baptist Church and leader of the opposition group, said he believes the two voting locations have been well advertised to the public and doesn’t perceive it to be a problem.
Gray said that based on responses from community members, he hopes the propositions are voted down.
“I’ve had a lot of contact from people who have voted against it,” he said. “I have no idea (what the final result will be, but) turnout has appeared to be pretty heavy. We are hopeful it will get defeated.”
He said his church hosts a support group called Celebrate Recovery on Thursday evenings for anyone with “hurts, habits or hang-ups,” and he personally has seen the destruction alcohol can cause in people’s lives and in their families.
Gray added he believes the economic benefits to the town are inflated, and the sale of beer and wine would add to its existing problems.
“People are going to vote the way they are going to vote, and we are going to wait for the outcome and either celebrate or go to work (doing more ministry), one of the two,” he said.