Why vote on local casino gaming referendum Nov. 2?
Special To The Jefferson Herald
All eligible voters in Greene County are encouraged to go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2, or vote by absentee ballot, to make their voices heard in this important election.
Wait a minute, what? There’s no presidential or gubernatorial election this year – why take the time to vote this November?
If these questions popped into your mind, you are not alone, say representatives from Wild Rose Casino & Hotel and the non-profit Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation.
“We’re glad to hear people asking this question and we are pleased to be able to provide answers to the ‘Why vote?’ question,” said Tom Timmons, president of Wild Rose. “What is really at stake here is that a ‘yes’ vote means you want to see Wild Rose Casino continue to operate in Greene County and continue to re-invest in the county and surrounding communities at a rate of about $1.2 million per year.”
Since Wild Rose opened its doors in Jefferson in 2015, the casino, through Grow Greene County, has helped make possible new construction and upgrades for the schools, hospital, fire and ambulance services, child care facility, and beautification efforts throughout the county.
“The original referendum passed with over 75 percent of the vote in 2013,” said Brenda Muir, Grow Greene County board member. “By Iowa law – even though the casino is up and running – eight years after the original vote the residents have to vote to keep it.”
“We need voters to come out and vote yes for gaming to continue in Greene County so we can continue to hand out over $1 million each year to non-profit organizations,” Muir added. “To date, we’ve given over $7.4 million in Greene and surrounding counties.”
Referendum vote is “on” in “off” election year
Even in what is referred to as an “off” election year – that is, no national or statewide offices are being decided – there are still important ballot measures and local offices to vote on. For Greene Countians who support continued growth in the area, the importance of casting a ballot on Nov. 2 cannot be overstated.
In order for a casino to operate anywhere in Iowa, the local residents must vote in favor twice, eight years apart: once to say “yes” to allowing a gaming establishment to open; and eight years later to say “yes” we want it to continue operating here. While the law applies to all of Iowa, Wild Rose Jefferson is the only currently operating casino facing the referendum vote this year.
“Talk about being an island,” quipped Timmons, referring to the unique situation in Greene County in 2021. In the early days of legalized gaming in Iowa, there was a lot of buzz statewide and residents across the state were much more aware of the laws governing the industry.
“Now, with this second referendum vote taken during an off election year, and Wild Rose being the only casino facing a referendum in 2021, it’s especially important that we bring the information directly to the Greene County voters so everyone understands why to vote and how to vote,” Timmons explained.
The Greene County Auditor’s office “strongly encourages all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote” in the upcoming city and school election and all other elections and ballot measures on Tuesday, Nov. 2, said Billie Jo Hoskins, Deputy Greene County Auditor. In-person absentee voting begins at the Greene County Auditor’s office on Wednesday Oct. 13, Hoskins added.
“Like always, you may vote in person at your precinct polling place or you may vote absentee by mailing in, or dropping off, your ballot.” Hoskins said, adding that if Greene County residents have any questions on voting, registering to vote, or how to request or return your absentee ballot, they should contact the Greene County Auditor’s office at 515-386-5680.