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October 2, 2013

Backers hopeful of voter approval: Tuesday question would allow Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants and clubs

ENID, Okla. — Promoters of a proposal to allow restaurants and clubs to sell alcohol on Sundays are confident the Tuesday referendum will pass, said Enid City Commissioner Mike Stuber, one of the organizers.

“It’s looking good. The comments and the poll were positive,” Stuber said. “We just need to make people realize they have to vote. Don’t assume it will pass and not vote.”

The proposal would allow restaurants and clubs to sell alcohol by the drink between 10 a.m. and midnight Sundays. The proposal also opens up Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, but keeps Thanksgiving and Christmas dry.

Some Enid churches have come out against the proposal, as have individuals.

Stuber and fellow city commissioner Tammy Wilson organized the petition drive that collected enough signatures to bring the issue to a vote.

“We must drive the vote,” Stuber said. “We have to get people out there. It’s obvious there is strong support within Garfield County and Enid, and we must make sure people are aware they have the right to vote and make sure they exercise their right.”

Sample Ballot

Proponents say the issue is not about alcohol, but about economic development. Stuber and Wilson have said Enid has missed out on attracting several restaurants because Sunday alcohol sales are not allowed.

Stuber said more restaurants mean increased ad valorem taxes, more jobs, more dollars in the economy recirculating because employees are spending their paychecks here, and more restaurant choices for people already here.

Stuber said travelers going through Enid or visiting family during a holiday may want to have dinner and a drink while they are here. He said that inability is hurting local bars and restaurants, and preventing some potential businesses from selecting Enid.

Promoters said they are helping Enid and Garfield County be competitive in restaurant recruitment and also for other businesses.

“Figures show restaurants do anywhere from 35 percent to 42 percent of their net from the bar,” Stuber said. “If you take 15 percent of the week, plus holidays away, that’s a significant impact.”

Thirty-five of Oklahoma’s 77 counties already allow alcohol sales on Sundays.

Enid Police Chief Brian O’Rourke said in a previous story he has heard from police chiefs around the state. He is acquainted with the Stillwater police chief, who said there have had no problems since Payne County approved a similar measure last year.

“No issues. It doesn’t increase the problem. Alcohol issues are alcohol issues,” O’Rourke said. “Even on Sunday, when you can’t buy a mixed drink, if someone wants to drink, they are going to.”

Wilson also said the issue is not about drinking, but about economic development. People already can drink on Sundays, she said.

“If people want to drink on Sundays, they can already buy as many beers as they want, or they’re stocking up at the liquor stores on Saturday,” she said.

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