"I think ultimately it comes down to conviction...to [the] image of your community"

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The battle to make Smith County wet is still brewing, or at least, percolating. Members of the Smith County Citizens for Economic Growth (SCCEG) formally requested a recount of the May 9th election. That's because, in Winona, the decision to allow the legal sale of alcohol for off premise consumption was a tie.

It's just about the last weapon they have to fight with.

"We want to make sure we take it all the way," said Andy Osborn, with SCCEG.

Now, they are taking aim.

"Recounts rarely change the outcome, but I think we owe it to our supporters that we at least ask," said John Hatch, with SCCEG. "Anybody that doesn't see that the people of Smith County are moving toward legalization, quite frankly, aren't looking at the results correctly."

Back in 2004 Hatch helped get the issue on the ballot in Lindale. He says it failed by nearly three quarters of the votes against it. This time around, he says the numbers speak for themselves.

"Anybody who doesn't think that one vote counts needs to look at this election today," said Hatch.

That will be Smith County Election Administrator Karen Chaney's job...if the petition is approved.

"We know which machines were used [and] which flash cards were used," said Chaney."We've got the mail ballots pulled 513 we've got all the tally sheets pulled."

She has, basically, everything her office will need to verify signatures, double check votes, and cross check results. She does not anticipate anything changing. Neither does the opposition.

"I think ultimately it comes down to conviction," said Pastor Tony Watson, with the First Baptist Church of Winona. "It comes down to image of your community."

Watson recognizes the community is changing, to some degree, but some things he's not budging on.

"I don't want to be the next liquor town," said Watson.

"Liquor stores in Big Sandy, Gladewater, Kilgore and Longview...they're the happiest," said Hatch.

"I wish the whole area were dry," said Watson.

"At least at the end of the day, we'll know that the final results were in fact, the final results," said Hatch.

County Judge Joel Baker has two days to approve the petition and notify both sides. The Smith County elections office will then have a week to complete the recount. One vote, of course could swing the results. Residents did vote to allow the sale of alcohol in "restaurants and bars" in Justice of the Peace Precinct 4.

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