Let the voters decide.
That is the opinion of Libertarian John Monds, who asked the Grady County Board of Commissioners to place a Sunday alcohol sales on the ballot this year.
During Tuesday’s commission meeting, Monds presented the issue to the board for the second time. He presented it in 2012 but, because of the time constraints, the commissioners did not have time to decide whether to put it on the ballot that year.
Monds, a former Georgia gubernatorial and Public Service Commission candiddate, said, “I just wanted to bring this issue back to the board so you will have the opportunity to see what the community wants. I wish it didn’t have to come to this. People should be able to choose when they buy alcohol whether you support it or want to participate in it or not.”
In 2011, a bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. It allowed local referendums on a county or municipal level to be passed for the sale of alcohol on Sundays. This makes it possible for the issue to be placed on a ballot referendum for the voters to decide.
According to Monds, the hours that typically allow for the sale of alcohol on Sundays are 12:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., but the referendum language could determine a different time frame.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to put it out there in the public and see what they want to do,” Monds said.
During his research, Monds found that in the vast majority of the communities that allowed a referendum on Sunday sales — it has been passed. However, it is up to the commissioners to put the matter to the voters.
Monds added, “It’s early enough in the year to give you time to get it on the ballot.”
Chairman T.D. David asked Monds when he was looking to have the issue placed on the ballot.
Monds said he conferred with Grady County Probate Judge Denise Maddox. He said she told him she would have to check with the Secretary of State’s office on when it could be placed on the ballot.
Commissioner Billy Poitevint represents Monds’ district and talked about the issue with him prior to it being brought back to the board.
Poitevint said, “I told John what he needed to do about getting the referendum started. I told him to come to a meeting. He knows my feelings about it and where I stand on it. He knows I’m not in favor it of.
“I still feel like he had a right to be here and say what he needed to say. I appreciate him calling be and checking with me on this issue.”
Commissioner Faye Copeland felt differently on the issue and thought letting the voters decide would be the fairest thing to do.
“As a commissioner, I’m not here to give my personal opinion whether I like it or not. You are asking the board to make it a referendum and let the voters decide. I think that’s the way to decide and the fair thing to do,” said Copeland.
She also thought the sale of alcohol on Sundays could generate some much needed revenue for Grady County.
She added, “When I came on board last year, this was something I thought about. People are going to buy it wherever they can and if we can get some revenue from it, that’s what we need.
“The community needs to pull together to make it happen. Just because we approve this doesn’t mean we personally support it. It’s giving voters the opportunity to decide.
“I’m all for a referendum and letting voters decide — and that’s my take on it.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.