A local committee, called Let Hempstead County Decide, is racing against time. John Setzis, a local businessman and campaign organizer, said they need about 2,000 more signatures from registered voters in Hempstead County by August 10. The goal is to put the initiative on the November ballot to allow county voters to choose whether to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages. or keep it prohibited.
For the initiative to be placed on the ballot, the Let Hempstead County Decide campaign, which Sitzes chairs, needs to provide the signatures of 38 percent of registered county voters before the August 10 deadline. If a majority votes yes to the initiative in November 2022, county leaders will decide the rules to which alcohol sales will apply.
A copy of the petition form can be downloaded from the campaign website to be printed and signatures collected.
Seitz said the initiative’s corridor would not lead to “liquor stores on every corner” in Hempstead County towns. Sitzes said Arkansas law allows only one liquor store license to be granted for every 7,500 residents of the county. Since Hempstead County has only 20,000 people, the county has only two liquor store license holders.
While many signatures have been collected so far, Setzis says more are needed. “A lot of people have signed, but we need their relatives too,” he said. It urges those who wish to volunteer to help collect signatures and those who simply wish to sign, to send a message to the campaign on its Facebook page.
During the campaign, Sitzes said his experiences asking for autographs and support have been positive. “I’ve never had anyone come to me and tell me I’m doing something wrong,” he said.
Setzis says there are many reasons why Hempstead County registered voters might consider signing the petition and then voting yes to the initiative. Facebook includes posts of research articles that demonstrate the beneficial effect of wetness on county economies.
Additionally, Sitzes notes the increased financial health of existing restaurants and additional new attractions to come. This, in turn, may stop the exodus of people from the province and attract many who have gone back. Passing the initiative would also be a way for citizens to see their activism rewarded. Finally, as stated in one of the campaign’s Facebook posts, “Most importantly, stop our tax coins from leaving our province!!!!”
Those who wish to sign also have several locations to choose from where forms are available:
- Bobcat Fret-108 South Main
- Terry Powell-310E Greenwood Grocery
- Neighbors -1301 AH 3 Street
- Salon One 24 – 124 H Street 2
- Beard and Shears-114 W 2nd St
- Tailgaters – 101 Southern Maine.
Or you can download a copy of the petition over here