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Wet-Dry Vote Could Affect Economy

By Sujata Dand, KERA News

Dallas, TX – For almost 100 years it's been illegal to sell alcohol in many parts of Dallas. But that could change with Tuesday's election. Voters will decide whether or not stores can sell beer and wine citywide. KERA's Sujata Dand takes a look at how that would affect Dallas' economy and the debate surrounding Proposition 1.

Sujata Dand: On the corner of Overton and Illinois, in the heart of South Dallas, sits a tiny grocery store with bars on the windows and a chain-link fence.

Two young women in pajama pants cash checks and buy sodas. Julie Tam sits behind a glass window ringing up their sales. Her father has owned the store for 20 years.

Julie Tam: Unemployment. People aren't working. They don't make money. Compared to 20 years ago, it's like 80% down. If we sell alcohol here, we have more people working here, more employees. So, hopefully.

Sujata Dand: Tam's market is one of 8 convenience stores in a one-block radius. If Proposition 1 passes, each could sell beer and wine as long as they met the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission's licensing requirements. In most parts of town, there's support for the proposition. But, south of the Trinity, community leaders worry crime will increase with beer and wine sales.

Dwaine Caraway, Mayor Pro Tem: This is one of the car washes where people were killed. Okay? To say we are now going to add another element to that area. I mean come on.

Sujata Dand: Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway represents this area.

Dwaine Caraway: What we should be concerned about is will the community benefit. Not just the store owner. The community is greater than the store owner.

Sujata Dand: Large grocery store chains and restaurants have spent more than a hundred thousand dollars in support of proposition 1. Gary Huddleston is the director of Consumer Affairs for Kroger and the co-chair of the Keep the Dollars in Dallas Campaign.

Gary Huddleston, Kroger: It will certainly open up many valuable pieces of land for development for both supermarket and restaurant development because today at least at Kroger the ability to sell beer and wine at a location is a very important factor in choosing a supermarket location.

Sujata Dand: Huddleston says Dallas is the only major city in TX that still has dry areas and that's why it's losing millions of sales tax dollars to the suburbs. If proposition 1 passes, Dallas could receive an additional 10 to 20 million dollars in tax revenue numbers Huddleston says the city can't ignore when it's struggling to pay the bills. Councilman Caraway sees it differently.

Dwaine Caraway: The expansion of beer and wine into these types of areas is a true hazard. It is not worth the money that we will make because of the lives that are going to be in danger and the lives that will be lost.

Sujata Dand: Huddleston has faith that the TX Alcohol and Beverage Commission's regulations will protect the community.

Huddleston: You cannot have an establishment selling beer and wine within 300 feet of a church, school, a hospital or a daycare center. So, that would eliminate many piece of property that some folks have a concern about.

Sujata Dand: Back at Tam's grocery store, Naomi is a regular customer. She's doesn't expect Proposition 1 to change anything she's used to seeing crime in her neighborhood.

Naomi: I see people drinking here anyway. If people wanna get something they are going to get it. Whether they go out their door or go across the bridge.

Sujata Dand: Dallas police say they have no idea if crime will increase if Proposition 1 passes. For Councilman Caraway, it's just not worth the risk. But Huddleston and others believe the expansion of beer and wine sales is an investment in the future development of Dallas.

The second proposition on the ballot allows restaurants to serve beer and wine without requiring customers to obtain a membership card. Both Caraway and the Keep the Dollars in Dallas Campaign support this initiative.

For information on this and other election issues go to You'll find links to numerous election related resources.