Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
When Jonesboro residents go to the polls this fall, they will be voting on whether they want alcohol sold in the city on Sundays, in addition to choosing a mayor and three city councilmembers.
The Jonesboro City Council voted 5-1, on Monday, to place a Sunday alcohol sales referendum on the Nov. 8 municipal elections ballot, with City Councilman Wallace Norrington casting the lone vote against the referendum.
The move comes quickly on the heels of Gov. Nathan Deal's recent signing into law a bill that allows counties and cities to hold referendums on whether alcohol can be sold within their city or county limits, between 12:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m., on Sundays.
Up until now, the sale of alcohol on Sundays -- except in licensed eating establishments -- has not been legal.
"The issue will now be on the November ballot for the people to decide," Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox proclaimed, after the city council voted on the referendum question.
Jonesboro joins a growing list of local communities that are moving to set up referendums to allow their residents to decide if they want alcohol sold locally on Sundays. Presently, restaurants are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays, but passage of a referendum by a community would allow other establishments, including gas stations, grocery stores and package stores to sell alcohol on that day as well.
"It's a good opportunity for the citizens to make their voices known on this issue," said City Councilmember Pat Sebo, who pushed for a referendum. "The people need to be the ones deciding this, not the city council."
But, after the meeting ended, Norrington said he objected to the referendum, at least partially on religious grounds, citing that Sunday is a day when many people go to church. "I think Sunday is the Lord's day, and ought to be a day set aside without alcohol sales," he said. "You've got all these other days where they [residents] can go out and buy alcohol, so you don't need one more."
Last week, Maddox said an advantage of placing the referendum on the city's municipal election ballot is that it will save the city the cost of calling for, and holding, a separate, special election.
Sebo previously said the cities of Woodstock and Loganville have already decided to hold referendums on Sunday alcohol sales, and the Dalton City Council voted just last week to hold a referendum on the issue as well.
The City Council in Peachtree City also voted, last week, to hold a referendum on Nov. 8, according to the Fayette County News.