McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 8, 2013

County voters say 'yes' to Sunday liquor sales

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — By more than a two-to-one majority, Garfield County voters Tuesday approved a proposition allowing liquor sales on Sunday.

It will go into effect once the election is certified, which typically happens by the Friday after an election.

The vote was 4,089-1,863 in favor of the proposition.

Supporters of easing alcohol restrictions, who organized as Garfield County Advocates for Progress, celebrated with a watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Enid. That restaurant will be one of several in the county that will benefit from being able to pour wine and liquor on Sundays.

Tammy Wilson, an Enid city commissioner and one of the main driving forces behind a petition to put the question on Tuesday’s ballot, said she was happy the public made their voices heard.

“I appreciate all the people who worked so hard to pass this, and I appreciate that people saw the need for progressing Enid in economic development,” she said. “I think this is a very smart move.”

A lot of people, she said, don’t think about how employees at the restaurants and bars will be helped.

“It’s going to affect their bottom line as well as a lot of other things. Ad valorem taxes, sales taxes, jobs, tips. All of those things,” she said.

Fellow City Commissioner Mike Stuber joined Wilson and others in pushing for the law to be adopted in the run-up to the election. He had set a goal of 70 percent support at the ballot box and nearly got there. According to the Garfield County Election Board, 68.7 percent of voters supported the change.

“When I was going through the petition phase, it seemed like it was 70 percent of the people who were for it. That’s where I got my goal. I think it’s indicative of where the pulse is,” he said.

Overall, he’s relieved that it passed.

“I’m glad to see that folks in Garfield County are ready for some progress. I’m looking forward to the future,” said Stuber.

Garfield County follows Stillwater’s Payne County in allowing Sunday liquor sales. Other communities are taking note and could be bolstered to relax their own liquor laws because of what happened here, Stuber said. In Payne County, the effect of last year’s adoption resulted in a boon for existing businesses, but only one business has made concrete plans to open up shop there because of their vote. Stuber said give it time.

“Nothing happens in less than a year,” he said. “By the time you enter negotiations, you start doing site plans and site review, you put boots on the ground and you start negotiating, work on financing incentives, it takes more than a year.”

Tuesday’s vote, which also will allow serving of liquor on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, is expected to draw a second look from restaurants that previously passed on Enid.

“What I look to take from this is now we have a level playing field. Let’s get back into negotiations again,” Stuber said.