The clock started Wednesday for Let Lubbock Vote. The group has 60 days to collect enough valid signatures to bring expanded alcohol sales to a vote in Lubbock County. Supporters have hired a company called Texas Petition Strategies, which has led more than 140 petition efforts across the state with a 100% success rate.
The company began collecting signatures at local Wal-Marts Wednesday afternoon. The plan is to visit other locations as the drive goes on. Folks will be asked to sign two different petitions, one for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages for off premise consumption. The other is for legal sales of mixed beverages in restaurants and by food and beverage certificate holders.
To put both measures on the May ballot, Let Lubbock Vote must collect 18,747 signatures. Petition organizers say Lubbock presents a unique challenge that they've never really faced before. The folks over at Texas Petition Strategies tell NewsChannel 11 they've had opposition to the issues, but not the petition drive.
That's exactly what they face here in the Hub City. The newly formed TAAS PAC, TAAS standing for Truth About Alcohol Sales, says they'll do whatever they can to stop expanded alcohol sales.
"We will do everything we need to do to fight this battle," Larry Jones with TAAS said. He opposes expanded alcohol sales for several reasons. "Not just alcohol, but bars. Not just bars, but prostitution. Not just prostitution, but organized crime. We're begging for an escalation of all of these factors because of increased alcohol," Jones said.
Last month, Jones led a meeting at Mahon Library to organize those who share his views. They've now started TAAS PAC. "I think the chamber has made a very serious mistake, to force this upon our citizens. It's a very controversial issue, especially since they've added the element of liquor, hard liquor being available everywhere. We will do everything we need to do to fight this battle," Jones said.
It's an uncommon battle for the firm charged with getting petitions to pass in Lubbock. "Historically groups have never come out to oppose the getting access to the ballot. I think in some respects, some of the members of the opposition want to jump the gun and go straight to the election debate; well, lets just have the debate on where we are right now, which is should we even get to vote on this," John Hatch with Texas Petition Strategies said.
Jones says TAAS PAC will call for supporters soon, in a battle they expect to win. "We believe we'll win the battle in the long run," Jones said.
Jones says they'll introduce TAAS PAC's leadership next week. Then, they will hold a volunteer meeting on October 16th at 7 p.m. at their headquarters located at 4415 66th Street.