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Ballot measure banning alcohol sales fails in Bethel

October 5, 2018

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Bethel residents voted down a ballot proposition that would have banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in the western Alaska city.

Unofficial election results show about 53 percent of Bethel voters voted against the ban on Tuesday, KYUK-AM reported .

Voter turnout was “absolutely more than last year,” likely reaching a record-breaking year, Bethel City Clerk Lori Strickler said. More than 1,000 ballots were cast, according to the unofficial results.

The all-inclusive alcohol ban likely went too far for voters. Bethel resident Jon Cochrane said the sales of beer and wine do not seem to be been problematic for the area but that hard liquor sales concern him.

“Personally, I prefer an option where there is more limitations on hard alcohol sales, but where restaurants still have the ability to sell beer and wine,” Cochrane said.

The city that serves as a regional hub reported an uptick in alcohol-related offenses and calls for service after it began selling alcohol for the first time in more than 40 years in 2016, prompting the effort to ban alcohol sales.

The “all or nothing” approach with the local option doesn’t work, Cochrane said.

If the measure had passed, it would have likely led people into bootlegging, resident Jonathan Liberty said.

“A lot of people are glad to be able to go and pick up a case of beer or bottle of wine, and when they can’t, you know half of them are gonna be able to just go make an order anyway, and the other half are gonna turn to bootleggers,” Liberty said.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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