SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Next week, some East Texans will begin heading to the polls on an issue that's been stirring up mixed emotions. It would affect Precinct Four in Smith County, which includes parts of Winona, Tyler, Overton and Chapel Hill. As it gets down to the wire, both sides are giving a last push and campaigning hard.
Andy Osborn, owner of a gas station on the corner of Hwy 271 and Hwy 155 just outside Tyler, is hoping he gets to stock his coolers full of beer and wine soon. Their group is hitting the streets Saturday morning to encourage citizens to vote yes, but they are not the only ones stepping up their game.
In a political ad, Tony Watson says he believes alcohol sales would only bring more crime and abuse.
"There's going to have to be increased law enforcement, and the sales of alcohol will not even cover the cost of one additional officer," said Watson. Osborn, however, says voting yes could breathe some life into the economy.
"If we can sell beer here and wine here, we're going to be selling more chips, more deli food and more gasoline," said Osborn. "I'm going to have to hire more people, and that's good for the economy."
"I'm not sure where the jobs are going to come from other than the expansion of their businesses selling more alcohol," said Watson. "What will happen, is generally following the sales of alcohol in a region comes sexually oriented businesses." Some argue that liquor store owners would be the only ones profiting, but Tom Mullins with the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, says it's bigger than that.
"Being able to sell beer and alcohol is a good profit center for the business owner, so they're motivated by that, but it's also a convenience factor for consumers," said Mullins. "They save drive time, and there is more retail revenue for the local economy." Both sides are encouraging citizens to vote early and just vote period. It will shake down to their personal choice.
Early voting begins on Monday. The election is May 9th.