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'I'm a little shocked.' Both sides react to failing alcohol ballot measures in Colorado

The owners of Coaltrain Wine and Spirits in Colorado Springs fought against all three ballot measures involving alcohol in the 2022 midterm election.
Posted at 7:36 PM, Nov 09, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado voters were faced with three ballot measures involving alcohol in the 2022 midterm election and, to many people's surprise, all three are likely to fail.

Prop. 124 - Liquor Licenses
This proposition would have allowed individuals to increase the number of liquor licenses they can hold, meaning individuals could open a larger number of liquor stores.

Prop. 125 - Wine in Grocery Stores
This proposition, as the title alludes, would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores in Colorado. This is the only close race among the three alcohol-related measures with votes split roughly 50-50 as of Wednesday evening. The "no"s were ahead by roughly 6,000 votes.

Prop. 126 - Third Party Liquor Delivery
This proposition would have allowed delivery businesses, like DoorDash or Uber Eats, to pickup to-go cocktails from restaurants and deliver them to customers.

Prop. 126 was arguably the most unexpected failure of the three ballot measures.

"Honestly, I'm a little shocked," said Emillio Ortiz, the General Manager at 503W, a restaurant and bar on the westside of Colorado Springs.

503W is among the many restaurants in Colorado Springs which relied on the profits of to-go alcohol to make it through several months during the pandemic.

"We know what a lifeline that was for bars and small restaurants during Covid. It offered another line of revenue stream... We were trying to make that a permanent thing," said Ortiz.

Restaurants can continue selling to-go alcohol under the current emergency ordinance, which is still in place from the pandemic, but that can end at any point. Prop. 126 would have codified the restaurant's right to sell to-go alcohol, regardless of the emergency ordinance.

However, Ortiz thnks this is an argument which will pop up on future ballots.

"I think it's on us though to start educating people and let people know that... This is very helpful," said Ortiz.

A few miles away from 503W, the business owners of Coaltrain Wine and Spirits have been proactively campaigning against all three of the ballot measures. The Co-Owner, Peggy Mckinlay, is "thrilled" with the unofficial results.

"I was really surprised just because so much money had been put out by large corporations to defeat this," said Mckinlay, referring to their fight against the initiatives.

Mckinlay and her partner argued these ballot measures would put mom-and-pop liquor stores out of business, Prop. 124 regarding liquor licenses in particular.

"Coloradans read the ballot initiative and realized that this is going to cause a lot of harm for small business," said Mckinlay.

Some of those opposed to the delivery of to-go alcohol have claimed it would make it easier for underage people to get their hands on alcohol.

"We train our employees and make sure they check IDs because if they don't, we, as a store, get a ding against our license. It's a big deal. With DoorDash, the guy gets a ticket and that's it," said Mckinlay.

However, Ortiz does not believe the concern over underage users is enough to warrant a "no" vote.

"That argument, to me, falls a little short. I get the aspect of wanting to be safe and the accessibility, but to be honest with you, kids can access alcohol pretty easy almost whenever they want. Let's be honest about that," said Ortiz.

The most recent election results can be found here.

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