LONGVIEW (The Longview News Journal) — In stark contrast to the heated alcohol election of 2007, Longview voters overwhelmingly backed a measure Saturday to allow beer and wine sales across the city — approving Proposition 1 by a margin of almost two to one.
The measure, which will allow beer and wine sales in grocery and convenience stores in formerly dry areas in North and West Longview, was catapulted to a lead in early voting and coasted to a dominant win when polls closed Saturday.
During early voting, the push led by political action committee Longview United for Growth drew 1,184 votes in favor of the change. Just fewer than 600 votes were cast against the proposition in the same period.
In the final tally, the proposition passed with a comfortable margin of 2,018 votes in favor and 1,180 against.
“I really do think it’s a great day for Longview and shows that the people of Longview are ready to move forward,” said former Mayor Earl Roberts as results were announced at the Gregg County Courthouse. “We will begin to see the economic benefit very soon.”
Proponents argued that the ability to sell beer and wine is an important factor in grocery stores’ decision to build or expand.
“This really shows a progressive side of the community,” said Roberts, who is also a member of Longview United for Growth.
The campaign for Proposition 1 came on the heels of successful alcohol elections in November in Lakeport and Smith County.
On Saturday, voters in Tatum also approved a similar measure.
The push was supported by donations from business leaders and three $20,000 donations from grocery companies with stores in currently dry areas of Longview.
As the election drew near the past couple of weeks, opposition to the change arose from residents and area pulpits, with opponents arguing against the dangers of alcohol.
However, the opposition, which never organized or raised funds to oppose the measure, was not successful in the way an alliance of churches and liquor stores had been in 2007.
That election garnered much heavier voter turnout, election officials said.
Grocery and convenience stores in the areas of Longview that are now allowed to sell alcohol will first have to receive licensing.