Supporters, Opponents of New Mexico Beer/Wine Vote Speak Out

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

EUNICE, NM - Voters in three New Mexico cities could make a huge change at the polls on Tuesday. Residents will be deciding if they'd like to be able to down a cold beer or a glass of wine when they dine out.

It's been voted on before, but failed, the last time by only a small number of votes.

Supporters say alcohol sales would help the local economy but not everyone agrees.

Restaurant owners in the towns of Eunice, Tatum and Lovington, New Mexico, are bracing for a tight race.

On Tuesday, voters will cast their ballots in a special election that'll decide if beer and wine can be served in restaurants.

A few years ago, supporters of the issue lost by just a few votes but they aren't giving up.

Johnny Robertson is one of them. He owns Outlaw Grill in Eunice.

"Actually I think it would affect our night time sales more than anything," Robertson said. "Why would it hurt if they had a meal with it too."

He said he's losing business because he can't serve alcohol.

"I hear tons and tons of people saying man we got off of work and go straight to Hobbs," Robertson said.

"You've got the Applebee's, you've got the Cattle Baron. You've got a few out there that serve alcohol and so they can't compete down here because of that," Eunice Mayor, Matt White, said.

White said without this privilege, the city is even missing out on business opportunities.

"We've had two major chains that have actually come and looked at us and they just said no way because of the alcohol thing," White said. "We're hoping we can keep some of that business that's going to Hobbs here in town."

Although alcohol sales in restaurants could help boost the local economy not everyone in Eunice is for it. There are some people who say it could hurt the community rather than help it.

"I'm really against the sales itself just simply for the fact that I've seen what alcohol can do to families, as a Christian counselor," First Baptist Church Pastor, Billy Capps, said.

He feels things would be better left the way they are.

"Anything that is a stimulant that causes you to lower your morals or standards is a deficit to the community," Capps said.

If the vote passes, there are alot of restrictions on that type of alcohol license.

"You have to serve a meal to get the alcohol,  White said. "Sixty percent of the money brought into the restaurant has to come from meals, not alcohol."

There's also a limit of either three beers or two glasses of wine per meal and waiters are strictly trained.

But Capps said that's not enough.

"What's gonna stop a person from going to one restaurant, having a meal, sitting down, having two beers, then going to the next restaurant and sitting down and having two beers," Capps said.

But one thing all three men can agree on is encouraging everyone to vote.

"Every vote matters," Capps said. "We need to stand for our beliefs."

"Whichever way the vote goes, that's the way the people vote and I will respect that and that's what we'll do," White said.

If the vote passes, restaurants still have to apply for a license with the State of New Mexico.

It then has to be approved by the City Council before they can begin serving alcohol.