By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
On a hot Sunday afternoon, supporters of a ballot issue regarding liquor by the drink on Sunday gathered downtown to promote the vote.
The tailgate party was to remind Enid residents that the Garfield County vote to allow liquor and strong beer sales on Sunday is coming up Oct. 8. Bratwurst and light beer were available for donation to the cause, and supporters began to gather by about 2 p.m., when a band began to play.
John Rogers, an Enid transplant from New Jersey, has been in Enid 13 years and made it his home. Rogers was one of the supporters on hand Sunday.
“I understand economic development. I grew up in a Sunday football tradition, instead of Saturday. I want to go to a sports bar and have a six-point beer or a glass of wine. I can see how it would be for restaurants,” Rogers said.
Rogers believes the biggest misconception about the election is that people want to be able to get drunk on Sunday. He said it is about restaurants and bars in Enid and other restaurants and bars that want to come to town.
Ward 5 City Commissioner Tammy Wilson said she supports the change, because it is an antiquated law, plus the city is missing out on economic development activity.
“There are restaurants that won’t come here if they are missing that revenue,” Wilson said.
If the law is not changed, some industries will not come to Enid. People will not come to a community they don’t want to live in. Quality of life issues are very important, she said.
Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell said he also supports the issue, because he believes the laws are outdated and need to be changed.
“I’d like for people to have a nice Sunday dinner with a mimosa or a glass of wine. If they don’t want to, no one is going to make them,” Ezzell said.
Ezzell believes restaurants are watching the vote. Many are interested in developing in Enid, but the law is a hold-up for chain restaurants, the model of which is based on Sunday-dinner liquor sales. Chain restaurants have a model, he said. If they cannot apply that model to Enid, they will not come, Ezzell said.
Dr. David Vanhooser, the city commissioner representing Ward 6, said he supports the issue. Vanhooser was not on the city commission when they talked to restaurants, but he favors any type of economic development.
“I’m here to raise awareness and get people to support this issue,” he said.
Enid City Commissioner Mike Stuber, representing Ward 2, said the tailgate party is to raise awareness and have fun. He wants people to be aware there is a vote a month from Sunday.
“We want to let people know they will have the opportunity to vote. Restaurants have other cities who want them, and they can go where they sell alcohol on Sunday,” he said. “It can’t do anything but help economic development.”
Stuber said feedback has been positive and the thing they are fighting is apathy.
“We need people to get out and vote,” he said.
Sunday liquor sales have been tied to economic development since some restaurant chains reportedly bypassed Enid because of the ban on liquor sales on Sunday. The petition campaign, led by Stuber and Wilson, needed 2,693 certified names to call the election. A total 4,025 signatures were submitted.
If approved by voters, the proposal would allow restaurants and clubs to sell alcohol between 10 a.m. and midnight Sundays. It also would allow liquor sales on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, but would keep Thanksgiving and Christmas dry.
Stuber, the petition drive’s co-chair, said he knows there will be opposition to the plan. The next step for supporters is to begin an education campaign and inform people about the proposal. He said they can raise funds, talk to others and encourage them to vote.