Group Opposes Benton County Alcohol
An opposition group forms to combat the wet effort in Benton County about a month from Election Day.
The grassroots group, made up of volunteers, Citizens United to Preserve Benton County, hopes to sway voters in their favor.
“We want to keep the alcohol out of convenient stores, we want to keep the bars out of downtown,” John Gore, chairman of Citizens United to Preserve Benton County.
As the group starts campaigning, the battle to change a seven decade old law, heats up.
“We want to keep the county a nice and safe place to live,” Gore said.
Marshall Ney, spokesperson for Keep Dollars in Benton County, said, “We should be business-friendly, we should keep our tax revenue, and we should put our tax revenue to work here.”
Citizens United to Preserve Benton County claims, if the county becomes wet, crime will increase and in turn the police force will have to grow to keep up.
“Well 60% more police, which is a statistic fact. It’s going to cost any additional sales tax revenue that we are able to raise,” Gore said.
Ney said they’ve looked into crime as well.
“If someone is going to be seven minutes away instead of 15 minutes away, is that really going to change the dynamics of our community? We don’t think so,” Ney said.
Ney said there are already 130 restaurants in Benton County that serve alcohol.
“We’re not really switching from a purely dry county to a purely wet county,” Ney said. “We are purely going to a wet county, to a little wetter.”
Ney said the opposition’s campaign surge won’t change their strategy. The group still plans to directly contact voters through mail, social media and phone calls.
“We respect their opinion, but we feel fortunate that we were able to obtain enough signatures to get it on the ballot and it’s up to the voters on Election Day,” Ney said.
Citizens United to Preserve Benton County said it’s contacting churches and campaigning.
“We’ve distributed fact sheets, we are working on email, we are raising money for advertising,” Gore said.
Together, Tom and Steuart Walton have contributed $475,000 to Keep Dollars in Benton County.
The last time voters went to the polls for the wet/dry issue was in 1944.