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Issues require civil discussion

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The fact that the community of St. Elmo is pretty evenly split on the issue of liquor sales was evidenced by the referendum vote on the issue in April 2005. At that election, liquor sales were returned after an absence of more than 60 years in a 244-240 vote.

Sadly, such a division on the issue both on the city council and among city residents continues about 20 months later.

It is that issue that was in the forefront as Randy Watson stepped down from the mayoral post last Monday night. As he talked about the reasons for resigning, Watson mentioned personal attacks about the citys handling of liquor sales.

Thats unfortunate, because there are a number of good things going on in the city, such as the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing District and efforts to revive the downtown.

Those improvements to St. Elmo have been overshadowed by squabbling about liquor sales. In recent months, the sale of liquor on Sunday has been a particularly bitter quarrel.

That was among the things on Jayson Porters mind as he took over as mayor last Thursday night. He acknowledged that it continues to be a difficult issue to handle.

Opponents of liquor sales contended prior to the April 2005 referendum vote that allowing liquor sales would cause problems in personal relationships. That prophecy has come true; but from what were hearing, the personal attacks are coming from people on both sides of the issue.

Porter and the other members of the city council certainly have a challenge ahead of them, and it will be impossible to deal with that challenge unless the residents participate in the discussions in a reasonable and respectful manner.

rb