As you have probably heard by now, the Board of Commissioners are considering holding an election for the citizens to decide if they want to have mixed drinks available in the county, something which is already available inside the Thomaston city limits. The board held a town hall meeting last week to gain insight of what the public wants to do on the matter and a little over 100 people attended. That is a staggering number compared to the typical 20-25 that show up at most town hall meetings, however in a county with roughly 27,000 people it is not necessarily an accurate account of the citizens as a whole.
I know for the four years since I have been working for the paper - and have been told it is more like the last 20 years - a referendum for sales of mixed drinks in the county has been talked about. It has come up in several county meetings as well as in conversation with people out in the community, with there being a mix of those for it and against it. Commissioner Steve Hudson has been an advocate of putting the issue to rest by letting the citizens of Upson County decide what they want rather than relying just on the opinion of the board. However, he has never received a second after making a motion to have a referendum on the ballot until this year.
I often get asked what my opinion is on various topics of things going on in town and why I don’t speak up at meetings when an issue is being discussed. Make no mistake, I generally have an opinion on most things, but my job is to report what goes on, not impose my viewpoint publically. This however, is the opinion page and I can freely give mine because it is just that, my opinion. So here goes.
I believe whether or not mixed drinks can be offered in the county is something that should be decided on by the general public, not just the elected officials. That is not to say I am condoning the drinking of alcohol nor am I condemning it; I merely think the issue should go to a vote because it is the only fair way to address the issue. It is also a right we have as citizens of this county, this state and this nation to voice our opinions through the ballot box.
As often as this subject comes up, continuing to put off a vote is not going to make it go away and frankly it has been talked about enough. The only way to settle things once and for all is to let the issue go to the poles, which is where each of you factor in. If this is something you want to see allowed in the county, then make sure to go vote if an election is held. If this is something you do not want, then make sure to go and vote when the time comes.
Commissioner Ralph Ellington summed it up best to me during the town hall meeting the other night. He said, “this whole dealing and situation is not whether anyone drinks or doesn’t drink. It is about the public’s right to vote for something that is important to the community…That’s the bottom line.”