A referendum allowing alcohol sales on Sunday within the city limit of LaGrange passed. There were two votes on the ballot, one allowing by the drink sales and one for package sales in liquor, convenience and grocery stores.
By the drink sales passed 1,868 to 1,294, or 59 percent to 40 percent of the vote. Package sales passed 1,787 to 1,367, or 56 percent to 43 percent of the vote. Only those in LaGrange city precincts could vote on the referendum.
“We’re excited that our public voted for this and we look forward to being open on Sunday,” said Charles Hudson Jr., who owns downtown restaurants C’sons and Mare Sol. “We appreciate the public’s support.”
Idle Hour Pub hosted a “Go to the Polls” party Tuesday night as election results came in. Owner Dan Tracy has run the bar for 31 years and was visibly relieved with the results.
“It’s not about profit, it’s about survival,” he said.
Opponents of the referendum fear the move to allow Sunday sales in LaGrange – and in other locations around the state – will lead to the legalization of gambling and horse racing, and take away the last day free of temptation for those fighting alcoholism and other addiction.
The Troup County Baptist Association campaigned against Sunday sales, even encouraging residents who lived in the county and couldn’t vote to take city voters to the polls.
“I’m disappointed,” said Aaron McCollough, associational missionary for the organization. “I feel like we gave it our best shot. I did all I could do.”
McCollough vowed to fight again if Troup County or Hogansville put the measure on the ballot in the future. West Point already approved Sunday sales in November.
“We’re not going away,” he said.
Each municipality or county government in Georgia was allowed to decide Sunday sales on its own after the state legislature said the governments could allow referendums. Local business owners wanted LaGrange to have Sunday sales so that those who want to buy alcohol could shop locally and not go to West Point or Newnan or Harris County, which also approved Sunday sales Tuesday night.
LaGrange City Council will have to vote to change its alcohol ordinance to set the hours for Sunday sales now that the referendum has passed. It is likely to have a first reading of that ordinance at its next regular meeting Tuesday. The ordinance would be passed – and the law put into effect – at the next regular meeting after that, on March 27.
“I voted for the people of LaGrange to make this decision,” said Councilman Jim Thornton. “I’m satisfied with their choice and we’ll move forward accordingly.”
In the GOP primary, local results were as follows:
Newt Gingrich: 3,031 (46 percent)
Rick Santorum: 1,506 (23.33 percent)
Mitt Romney: 1,494 (23.14 percent)
Ron Paul: 359 (5 percent)
Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer also were on the ballot, although their presidential campaigns are suspended. They received a handful of votes from Troup County voters.