CAMERON — Even considering the unofficial vote count, the local option for Cameron businesses to sell mixed beverages in restaurants, bars and other businesses passed Saturday by a landslide of almost 83 percent, Cameron City Secretary Amy Harris said Wednesday.
The unofficial vote count had 218 residents voting in favor of the measure, while 45 voted against it.
The votes will be canvassed Monday night during the regular Cameron City Council meeting, and the option will go into effect as soon as the votes are official, Harris said.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was already notified of the upcoming change, Harris said.
The option to enable the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed drinks was the sole issue on the May 7 special election ballot.
A petition begun by the Cameron Chamber of Commerce and local businesses was filed in December and turned in on Feb. 10 with more than the required number of signatures supporting it.
The petition had to have 307 signatures — 35 percent of 877, the number of city voters in the last governor’s election, Harris said. A total of 362 people signed it, and the signatures were verified.
The man who initiated the petition was Nilesh Bhakta, owner of the Budget Host Hotel in Cameron.
Most Cameron businesses already have a beer license and the liquor stores sell alcohol, but there was nowhere in Cameron where people could go to eat and drink, Bhakta said Wednesday.
“We have a majority of our residents eating out in Temple, and our restaurants suffer because of that. We’d like to keep residents eating and drinking locally so they can drive safely home,” Bhakta said.
The hope is that new restaurants, maybe small franchises like Applebee’s, would locate in Cameron, he added.
“We have new venues that will bring in people, like new baseball fields and a farmers market. We’re trying to bring new businesses to the area east of town on State Highway 36/U.S. 190,” Bhakta said.
Prior to the measure passing, only private businesses with a special license could serve alcoholic beverages.
When it becomes effective, businesses will still have to obtain a license, Harris said.