East Texas mayor makes endorsement; says issue is economic - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas mayor makes endorsement; says issue is economic, not moral

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

Released by the Such and Such Office of So and So:

The Smith County Citizens for Economic Growth Committee welcomes the support and public endorsement of Winona Mayor Rusty Smith. 

Statement by Rusty Smith, Mayor of Winona

Attached is a letter I am sending to the citizens of Winona and JP Precinct 4 explaining my support of Propositions 1 and 2.  For me this is not a moral issue, but an issue of economic development.

We hear a great deal of talk about "economic stimulus" coming from Washington and Austin.  The opposition claims that being dry doesn't hurt economic growth, and they point to Lindale as an example.  Well, we are dry here, too.  So why has the economic prosperity of Smith County passed JP 4 and Winona?  Even the opposition acknowledged we don't even have one grocery store in JP Precinct 4.  All of the other rural quadrants at least have grocery store developments in their area.

We did not get grocery stores, but we did get sexually oriented businesses.  The opposition group claims that sexually oriented businesses follow these "wet / dry" elections.  However, JP Precinct 4 already has sexually oriented businesses and we are dry.  Clearly being wet or dry has no impact on us having those types of business. 

I looked at what happened to crime rates and discovered law enforcement officials in recently wet cities state that crime remains basically unchanged.  But I did note that when the distance people drive to purchase alcohol is reduced, so does the number of accidents and highway fatalities.

From an economic perspective, I am going to take the word of Dr. Ray Perryman, a Smith County native.  In his letter to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, he stated that the initial projections by the proponents were too low. He also stated that the opposition cannot calculate all the societal costs that are associated with alcohol to paint the negative picture, but then calculate only the actual tax benefit of alcohol (the tactic of the opposition) when talking about the economic benefit.

But for me, it is more basic.  Eight miles up the road from my house is the town of Big Sandy, which is barely twice the size of Winona.   I see the economic growth they have-Banks, national chain restaurants like Subway, a small grocery market, even a newspaper-and they have package alcohol sales.  We have none of those.  Big Sandy also has annual tax revenue of nearly $300,000, which is nearly ten times that of Winona. 

I'm not going to wait for "stimulus packages" from Washington or Austin.  Passage of Props 1 & 2 is a positive form of economic development for our community.  It doesn't require a single tax break or grant from the government-just a simple change in policy.  I'm encouraging the people of Winona and JP Precinct 4 to take control of their own future and support Winona Propositions 1 & 2 and JP Precinct 4 Propositions 1 & 2.

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