Supporters of Casino vote say they have enough signatures

by Heartland News

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The group that wants Cape Girardeau voters to vote on a new casino say they have more than enough petition signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

"We have fulfilled everything that we're aware of."

Doug Austin, with the group "Quality of Life," went before the Cape Girardeau city council Tuesday night and announced that his group has 3,080 signatures.  They only needed 2,635.

He has already turned over some signatures to the city.   He will present the second round to the City Clerk Wednesday morning.   From there the city will have to certify if the signatures are from Cape Girardeau city voters.

If there are enough, the issue will go before voters in November.

Austin says his group is not necessarily opposed to the idea of a casino coming to Cape Girardeau.  He says they just want citizens to get a chance to voice their opinion by voting.

The last time voters got to vote on the issue was back in 1993.  Austin says that's a long time ago and the vote is outdated.

Not everyone agrees with Austin though.

Pat Wissman spoke immediately after Austin.  He says Austin has 37 churches helping him.

"There is a cost on this election," said Wissman.

Wissman says the money it takes to pay city employees to count and verify the signatures on the petition could be used in a better way.

Wissman also questioned why "Quality of Life" would not list the area churches that are helping Austin with his petition.

"I'd like to know what the 37 churches are," he said. "Do the churches really not support him? Are the churches not in the city of Cape?"

Wissman also questions whether the churches are breaking any laws by taking part in this petition drive.

"I was told petitions were put in the back of churches and people were told to go sign them," he said.

According to Wissman, if they did tell people to sign, they could lose their tax-exemption status.

Austin says the churches have been helping in deferent degrees. He says his reason for not releasing the names is simple.

"Every denomination has different rules and regulations and guidelines," Austin said. "If I just throw out 37 names I've got to go back and explain 37 individual responses."

It is not clear how long it will take the city clerk's office to validate the signatures that Austin will be presenting Wednesday.

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