Commerce voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 6, whether they want to allow the Sunday sales of beer and wine by the package and beer, wine and distilled spirits by the drink.
The Commerce City Council voted 3-1 Monday night to hold the two separate referenda in conjunction with the general election.
Voters will face two separate questions that will be on paper ballots (they will use voting machines for the general election). One will ask about the Sunday sale of beer and wine by the package and the other about the Sunday sale of beer, wine and spirits in restaurants that currently pour the other six days a week.
Ward 2 councilman Darren Owensby cast the only dissenting vote on a motion made by Ward 5 councilman Johnny Eubanks “to give the citizens the right” to vote on the matter.
Saying the Sunday sales issue “came out of the blue,” Owensby questioned whether there is really a demand for a vote. Mayor Clark Hill and mayor pro tem Keith Burchett responded that they’ve been asked a number of times about whether there would be a Sunday sales vote.
Commerce is the only municipality in the county that allows the sale of alcohol, but has not had a referendum on Sunday sales since the law was changed to allow the option of Sunday sales.
“It seems like we’re just trying to follow what Jefferson does, what Homer does or what Banks County does,” Owensby complained. “It just seems like it’s being pushed.”
Owensby said he’s had no calls on the matter.
“In my opinion,” he said, “beer and liquor six days a week is enough. We need to leave Sunday alone, because it’s the Lord’s day and we need to treat it like the Lord’s day.”
Hill, Eubanks and Burchett all stressed that the issue is letting the people vote.
“I’d be hard pressed to vote against (holding) any referendum personally,” Hill said. “That’s what makes us Americans. …We should feel obligated to do what the majority of the people ask us to do.”
“All we’re doing is letting them decide what they want,” Burchett agreed.
“It’s not going away,” Eubanks said of the issue. “It’s coming back. The ones who asked about it are going to ask again, so I think we ought to go forward with it.”
Eubanks, Burchett and Archie Chaney voted for the motion. Councilmen Mark Fitzpatrick and Steve Perry were not present.
Voters in Jackson County recently approved Sunday sales both by the drink and by the package for unincorporated areas of the county. Banks County will hold a Sunday pouring referendum on Nov. 6. Jefferson, Braselton and Hoschton have already approved Sunday sales.