Citizen starts petition for Sunday alcohol sales

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

A city restaurant manager plans to distribute a petition by the end of October to push for Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants.

Robin Howe, who said he is part of a group called the Committee for Clovis Progress, hopes to garner enough signatures to have the proposal on the ballot in the March general election.

He said the current Sunday ban is a reason some businesses are not interested in coming to Clovis.

“It’s legal six days a week, why isn’t it legal seven days a week?” said Howe, who started a similar campaign two years ago. “We all know that people are leaving town on Sunday, they’re going somewhere else and buying alcohol and then they’re driving back home with that in their vehicle.”

He said Hobbs passed a law allowing Sunday alcohol sales about two years ago, and it helped bring a casino and racetrack to the city.
Howe said he is acting as a private citizen and not as a restaurant employee.

City Clerk Leighann Melancon said a similar petition was sent to the clerk’s office two years ago, but did not make it in the ballot because it lacked qualified signatures.

Melancon said the group needs to collect 725 signatures from Clovis residents.

“It is 10 percent of the number of votes cast and counted in the city for the last governor’s race,” she said.

She said the petition has to be certified 60 days before the March 4 election (Jan 4) to make it on the ballot.

Howe said he is still in the preliminary processes of starting his petition.

City Commissioner Len Vohs signed the last petition and said he would sign this petition as well. He said he is fine with letting Clovis voters decide the issue.

He said two national restaurant chains expressed interest in Clovis about two years ago, but declined to come. He said the population of Clovis at the time was probably a major factor in the decisions, but believes the restriction of alcohol sales on Sundays was also a consideration.

“Roswell and Hobbs and Carlsbad and Albuquerque and Las Cruces, all of the bigger cities in New Mexico, have Sunday liquor sales,” he said. “I think we compete with all of the cities throughout the state on different things.”

Business owner and City Commissioner Juan Garza said he has mixed feelings about Sunday alcohol sales.

“As a business owner, we have to give the customer the opportunity to have whatever they want, because it’s always controlled anyway,” said Garza, who owns Juanito’s Mexican Restaurant, which serves alcohol. “As a commissioner … It would be good for the gross receipts, but still it’s not all about money. It’s about what people need.”

Commissioner Robert Sandoval said he is in favor of alcohol sales on Sundays, provided it is limited to restaurants.

Clovis voted down a proposal for Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants and stores in an October 1995 special election, Melancon said.