So one of the local referenda on last Saturday's ballot was a smoking ban ordinance for Baytown. It passed, just as it had passed last November when it was voted on previously. That hasn't stopped the opponents of said ban from vowing to try again, on the grounds that some day, sooner or later, the voters will see it their way.
Voters in Baytown on Saturday upheld a city ordinance that prohibits smoking in public places. More than 58 percent voted in favor of the comprehensive indoor-smoking restrictions. The measure was first approved by voters in November.
After Saturday's election, James Haarmeyer, a spokesman for the Baytown Property Rights organization, said the smoking ordinance is not a done deal.
Haarmeyer expressed disappointment after the votes were counted and vowed to petition to bring the same issue back to the voters in November.
"The city's charter does not restrict us from getting another vote and the city can't amend the charter to prevent it until May of 2008, which would be after the November election," he said.
Haarmeyer admits the fight has cost both sides thousands of dollars but strongly believes ordinances should not dictate smoking policy for business owners.
Members of the Baytown Citizens for Property Rights say their personal freedoms are being eroded because of the smoking restrictions. The group was seeking a repeal of the city's current smoking ordinance and to revert to its original ordinance that permits smoking in bars and public places that have designated smoking areas with separate ventilation systems.
Bruce Kennedy, a doctor and spokesman for Baytown's smoke-free coalition, said the majority of the city's voters have now "spoken twice" in support of a ban on smoking in public places.
The stricter smoking measure, which took effect Dec. 1, passed in November with 57 percent voter approval.