Voters in Houston to decide fate of alcohol referendums

HOUSTON, Miss. (WCBI) – Voters in Houston will decide on Tuesday whether alcohol sales will be allowed in the Chickasaw County city.

The city-wide referendum asks voters two questions – whether to allow the sale of beer and light wine and whether to legalize the sale of liquor.

“Houston will make the decision whether or not to end prohibition,” said Sean Johnson, who is the director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation.

He started a group called “Houston Forward” and collected enough signatures during the past year to get the issue on the ballot.

Johnson said Houston is losing by not selling alcohol. He pointed to a study by the Mississippi Main Street Association in 2017.

“In that study, they showed how much loss we were incurring each year because of our lack of alcohol sales, as well in economic development, a lot of people I’m talking to, are looking at raw sales data for a community. Houston, because of our dry status, our numbers aren’t as strong as they could be,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the proposals are strict.

For example, only restaurants with professional kitchens, generating more than half of their revenue from food sales can sell alcohol. Alcohol will not be sold after 10:30 p.m., exterior advertising for alcohol won’t be allowed and no alcohol will be sold on Sundays.

Johnson said Houston is the only dry town on the Tanglefoot Trail, and visitors are surprised when they can’t get an alcoholic beverage.

But some residents, who didn’t want to go on camera, believed alcohol sales would lead to increased costs for law enforcement and treatments and counseling for alcohol addiction.

The special election takes place at City Hall. Polls are opened from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Only registered voters in the city limits of Houston can vote in the special election.

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