Alcohol choice heading to Clovis ballot

By Gabriel Monte: Freedom New Mexico

A local group’s petition will allow Clovis voters to decide in the March 4 municipal election if they want alcohol sales on Sundays in Clovis restaurants.

While some city officials think Sunday alcohol sales would be good for the city, others say they will leave it to the voters to decide if they want it.

The Curry County Clerk’s office counted 1,083 valid signatures of Clovis residents from a petition proposing alcohol sales on Sundays, Chief Deputy Clerk Coni Jo Lyman said Friday.
The community group Committee for Clovis Progress needed 725 signatures to place the proposal on the March 4 municipal election ballot, according to City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon.

The group circulated its petition Oct. 31 and recruited about 20 local restaurants and individuals to collect signatures from registered voters who live in Clovis, according to spokesman Robin Howe. Lyman said the group submitted 2,107 signatures.

The group circulated a similar petition in 2006 and collected 875 signatures, but only 575 signatures were valid. This year, Howe said the group checked the signatures it collected against a list of registered voters who live in Clovis.

“There was a lot of support in the community,” he said. “There were literally twice as many signatures collected this time as there were two years ago, so that tells me there is a lot of support for it in the community and there’s a lot of people here that are in favor of bringing this to a vote.”

Lonnie Leslie, who heads the Curry County DWI task force, said Sunday alcohol sales would increase the potential of alcohol-related car accidents.

“My personal opinion is that Sunday would be one more day that a person might take the opportunity to over indulge and kill someone, like it’s happened in my family three times,” said Leslie, who lost his parents – and later his legal guardian – to a drunk driver.

Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said he sees no problem with Sunday alcohol sales.

“I see no problem with it at all — I’m a firm believer that you can’t go get drunk at a restaurant,” Sandoval said. “You can’t eat and drink that much, they’re not going to serve you alcohol unless they’re serving you food.”

He said the proposal would help with gross receipt taxes.

“There’s a lot of people that like to go to fine restaurants, but they’d rather drive on a weekend to Lubbock or to Amarillo to have a glass of wine with their dinner,” he said.

Commissioner and mayor pro-tem Randy Crowder said the petition is part of the democratic process and said it will be up to Clovis voters to decide if they want restaurants to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Commissioner and restaurant owner Juan Garza said he has mixed feelings about the proposal. But he said he doesn’t think the proposal will not likely affect gross receipt taxes.

“It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to deal with it when the time comes,” said Garza, who owns Juanito’s Restaurant, which was a signature collection point for the petition.