Linn County casino backers push for March 5 gaming vote

Petition submitted Tuesday; signatures gathered more quickly than anticipated, backers say

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UPDATE: In about seven weeks, Vote Yes Linn County amassed more than 16,000 signatures some 4,300 more than needed to prompt a special election to see if Linn County voters approve of gambling in the county.

The signature-gathering campaign progressed so quickly that Steve Gray, who is leading a group of mostly local investors in a plan to build the $80 million to $100 million casino, announced Tuesday that his group would push for a gaming vote on March 5.

He had expected the petition drive to take longer, and as a result, had expected to seek a vote on May 7.

"Fifty-four days and counting," he said at a Tuesday morning news conference outside the offices of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, where the Vote Yes Linn County group turned in its petition signatures.

The supervisors will meet Wednesday to set the date of the gaming vote.

"We got many more signatures much more quickly than we planned," Gray said.

He credited local labor unions, the Building Pros of Eastern Iowa and the Vote Yes Linn County volunteer corps with working hard on the petition effort.

State law requires the amount of signatures to prompt a vote on gambling to equal at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last general election in the county. In this instance, Vote Yes Linn County needed 11,872 signatures.

Gray has said his investor group, Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC, is proposing a May 7 gambling vote.

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