Jemison stepping closer to vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Less than a week after a bill allowing small cities and towns in dry counties to hold a referendum allowing alcohol sales, it appears one local city is close to calling for such a vote.

Jemison city officials confirmed Monday they have a petition with more than 220 names calling for a wet/dry referendum. The 220 names are just over the number of names needed for a municipality to call for such a vote.

“We are going to go through the list and verify that the names on the list are those that live within the city limits and are registered voters,” Jemison city clerk Mary Ellison said. “After that we will work with Probate Judge Bobby Martin’s office to schedule an election.”

Legislation that was approved last week by the Alabama Legislature allows towns of at least 1,000 residents in dry counties to organize a referendum if they collect enough certified signatures on a petition. The number of signatures needed must be at least 30 percent of the number of voters who voted in the municipality’s last election.

In August 2008, Jemison held a municipal election where 732 votes were cast. That would mean the petition would need to contain at least 220 certified signatures, a figure Ellison said the city has apparently reached.

For Thorsby, the only other local municipality affected by the bill, those in favor of holding a wet/dry referendum would need to collect at least 159 certified signatures.

In the 2008 municipal election in Thorsby, 528 ballots were cast.

According to election records, in the 1980 general election, Chilton County residents voted down a countywide wet/dry issue by 929 votes.

Out of the county’s polling places, only nine boxes showed votes in favor of the measure outgaining those against. One of those boxes was Beat 2 Box 1B, in Jemison.

In that election, voters in Jemison voted in favor of the wet/dry issue by a vote of 441 to 433.

In Thorsby, the vote was much more lopsided for the opposition. In the same vote, voters in Thorsby voted 324 for versus 414 against — a difference of 90 votes.

The only other city in the county that has voted on this matter individually is the city of Clanton, who in 1986 approved a measure allowing the sale of alcohol within city limits.

But, in 1990, there was an effort to return the town to its previously dry status.

In that measure, voters voted overwhelmingly to retain the right to sell and buy alcohol in the city by a vote of 1,980 to 1,377.