A special election will determine if Greene County has a chance of building the state’s newest casino.
The yard signs are out and the campaigns are working the phones to get out the vote, “We have the intersection of Highway 4 and Highway 30 which gets a lot of traffic,” says casino supporter Mary Jane Fields.
Next Tuesday, voters will decide whether to go all in on a new casino in Jefferson. The group, Grow Greene County, says there are a million reasons to bring gaming to the community.
“The economic development with the charitable giving that goes along with this that will enhance and make the quality of life for people in Greene County better,” says Fields.
It will take a lot more than that to convince Julie Poulsen.
“I hope people will vote no for the casino,” she says.
Poulsen, a Methodist pastor, sees gambling as a “regressive tax” on the poor, the addicted, and the broken. Yet she knows that odds are good she’s in the minority.
“I think the majority of our community is probably open to it and interested in it coming, but I do still wonder if 21 casinos isn’t enough for Iowa,” says Poulsen.
The closest casino is more than an hour away in Polk County. That’s too far away for Mary Jo Murphy.
“I voted for a yes. Yes, yes!” says Murphy.
The promise of 250 new jobs was enough to get her vote.
“I came back to Jefferson to live the rest of my life. I`m 52 but there aren’t jobs for me,” she says.
Murphy is one of the 1,050 residents who already voted by absentee ballot.
“I look around at the signs and I see more ‘Grow Greene County’ signs than I see the other kind so I think we’re in pretty decent shape,” says Fields.
“If you love to gamble, go for it, but let’s not bring those problems to our community,” says Poulsen.
Even if voters pass the measure next Tuesday, it isn’t a done deal. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission still has to sign off. Grow Greene County supporters say their best case scenario is that the commission approves the casino in 2014 and they can open for business the following year.