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Package alcohol sales fails by one vote in city

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Voter turnout abysmal as only 314 cast ballots

The question that has been debated for decades was answered last week with a whimper.

It would appear that 86 percent of the people who are registered to vote in the City of Gray do not care if the package sale of alcohol takes place in the city or not. The vote to approve the sale of distilled spirits that was on the Nov. 2 ballot lost by one vote, but it was the number of votes cast that tells the story.

The vote was 153 for the alcohol sales and 154 against. Only 314 people even bothered to vote out of 2,264 registered voters. That is a dismal 13.87 percent turnout.

Among the 125 voters who cast their ballots at the Government Center during the Early Voting period prior to Election Day, the count was 63 for the package alcohol sales to 59 who said no. That small lead however evaporated quickly when added to the votes cast Nov. 2.

Perhaps another point of interest, of the total 314 people who voted, seven opted not to answer the package sales question and left it blank.

SB 145 was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and went into effect May 4, the date it was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. The legislation gave cities and counties another way to place the question of package liquor sales on the ballot, by passing a resolution, rather than a petition of citizens’ signatures.

Gray City Council members decided to place the question of the package sales on the Nov. 2 ballot at their July 19 called council meeting. The motion to place the question on the ballot was made by Councilman Terry Favors, and it was approved unanimously among the members present.

The question may not be totally dead locally. The Jones County Board of Commissioners could opt to put the question on the ballot at the next county election.

The package sales question was one of two items on the Nov. 2 ballot. The other question was who would serve as Gray’s Mayor Pro Tem for the next four years. The incumbent James Collins won easily with 211 votes to challenger Rick Tipton’s 92 votes.

More about that contest is in a separate article in this edition.