By Tony Parra
Portales residents decided in a special election Tuesday to allow beer and wine licenses for city restaurants.
There were 374 votes cast in support of the proposal and 338 votes against.
Mayor Orlando Ortega and city council members had said they were in favor of the option when it was first discussed in city meetings, citing potential for economic growth.
Restaurant owners could begin sending applications to the state’s alcohol and gaming division as early as Oct. 27.
Portales residents have been divided on the issue since it was proposed.
“Restaurants should have the option,” Portales resident Robert Lutrick said. “I’m all for it. It’s a good selling point for our community to bring in businesses. I’m not a drinker, but I wouldn’t mind having a beer every once in a while with my meal.”
David Bennett said Tuesday’s vote won’t improve the community.
“(Alcohol is) not as accessible here as it is in other arenas,” he said. “I don’t want to see those types of business here. I don’t want to see economic development at the expense of our quality of life. We like the small-town atmosphere.”
Shannon Holden likes the potential of bringing in new businesses. She would like to see national chain restaurants move into town.
“People are responsible and the servers will be certified,” Holden said. “We are a community of responsible adults, we should be able to make the decision whether we want a beer or a glass of wine. People who just want to drink are going to go to Goober’s (a Portales bar) where they don’t have to buy food.”
Adam and Delores Gutierrez said they feel the city already has too many places at which to purchase alcohol.
“I have seven grandsons in schools and I’m concerned because a lot of the restaurants are close to the schools,” Delores Guiterrez said.
Adam Gutierrez said Portales city officials can bring in business without having the option of a beer and wine license.
“It’s good to bring in businesses, but we don’t want those types of businesses,” he said. “It gives the kids more encouragement to drink.”