It has been more than a year in the making, but finally voters in Upson County will have a chance to say if they want to be able to purchase ‘liquor by the drink.’ The question is on the ballot in the May 20 primary election. Early voting for the election began Monday morning.
On February 26, 2013, the Upson County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to put a ‘liquor by the drink’ referendum on the ballot. They initially had planned to vote on it last November, but with no state elections being held, the county would have had to fund the vote itself, and the BOC decided to wait until the next state election, which is the May 20 primary.
The issue has been a hot topic, and at both a town hall meeting and during the public comment portion of the Feb. 26 meeting, the overwhelming majority of comments were from those opposed to the sale of alcohol by the drink in unincorporated Upson County.
However, Commissioner Steve Hudson has been an advocate of having a vote to determine if the community wants liquor by the drink sales in the county for several years, and stated he believes the referendum is the only fair way to settle the matter. Commissioners Ralph Ellington and Lorenzo Wilder agreed with Hudson and voted in favor of the referendum, with Commission Chair Rusty Blackson and Commissioner Frank Spraggins voting against.
The City of Thomaston already allows liquor by the drink, so while everyone in the county will vote, the outcome only affects residents living in unincorporated Upson County. The referendum reads:
Sale of Distilled Spirits by the Drink on Premises
“Shall Upson County be authorized to issue licenses for the sale of distilled spirits by the drink for consumption on the premises?”
In the May 20 primary, the only local election with competition is to fill the remaining Yatesville City Council term of the late Elmer Kent, who died in December with two years left on his term. Billy Penn and Shane Moore qualified for the seat, and will face each other on the Non-Partisan portion of the ballot.
Local incumbents on the ballot who have no opposition include District 3 County Commissioner Ralph Ellington and District 4 County Commissioner Frank Spraggins. They are on the Republican ballot. School Board District 2 member Jacqueline Hollis, School Board District 4 member Keith Rohling, and School Board District 6 member Steve Sadler are on the Non-Partisan ballot.
District 131 State Representative Johnnie Caldwell is on the Republican ballot with no opposition.
However, in State Senate District 18, two relatively newcomers are battling for the seat on the Republican ballot. After incumbent Cecil Stanton decided not to run for re-election, Dr. Spencer Price of Thomaston and attorney John F. Kennedy of Macon threw their hats in the ring. Price ran against Stanton and narrowly lost two years ago, but this is Kennedy’s first try at the office. The winner on the Republican ballot will win the office, as there are no opponents on the Democrat ballot.
On the national level, 3rd District Congressmen Lynn Westmoreland is running for re-election, but opponent Chip Flanagan of Barnesville stands in his way. Flanagan also ran against Westmoreland two years ago. The race is on the Republican ballot.
There are several other contested races on both the Democrat and Republican ballots, plus several questions on the Democrat ballot. They are listed below by ballot:
For United State Senate
O. “Steen” Miles, M. Michelle Nunn, Branko “Rad” Radulovacki, Todd Anthony Robinson
For State School Superintendent
Tarnisha I. Dent, Marion Spencer “Denise” Freeman, Jurita Forehand Mays, Alisha Thomas Morgan, R. “Rita” Robinzine, Valarie D. Wilson
Democratic Party Questions:
1. Should Georgia raise the state minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour?
2. Should Georgia federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent care burden on our hospitals?
3. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the Governor’s office, legislature, or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials?
4. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?
For United State Senate
Paul Collins Broun, Arthur A. “Art” Gardner, J. P. “Phil” Gingrey, Derrick E. Grayson, Karen C. Handel, J. H. “Jack” Kingston, David A. Perdue
John D. Barge, J. Nathan Deal (Incumbent), David E. Pennington
For State School Superintendent
Mary Kay Bacallao, Ashley D. Bell, Michael L. “Mike” Buck, Sharyl H. Dawes, Allen Bowles Fort, Nancy T. Jester, T. Fitz Johnson, Kira G. Willis, Richard L. Woods
For Public Service Commissioner
Douglas T. Kidd, Charles C. “Craig” Lutz, Lauren W. “Bubba” McDonald (Incumbent)
For U. S. Representative in 114th Congress from the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia
C. E. “Chip” Flanegan, Lynn A. Westmoreland (Incumbent)
Early voting began Monday at the Upson County Voter Registrar Office in the Drake Building, 305 S. Hightower Street, Suite 130, in Thomaston. Voting will be held between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until May 16. There will be a special voting day on Saturday, May 10, when voters may cast their ballots between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call the Voter Registration Office at 706-647-6259 for more information.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.