Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 21, 2012

Sunday sales election set

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — An election date has been set for voters to decide on Sunday alcohol sales in Ashland.

 The vote will take place in both the Moore and Central precincts, following a successful citizen-driven petition drive over several weeks by two different sets of organizers.

Boyd County Judge-Executive William “Bud” Stevens signed an executive order on Thursday setting the special election on Feb. 26, 2013. The specific question on the ballot will be: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcohol beverages on Sunday between the hours of 12 p.m. noon, and 1 a.m. the following Monday?”

Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones said a petition for the Central precinct bearing 92 verified signatures was re-submitted to her office Wednesday afternoon. It follows the verification of the Moore precinct petition last week.

The Central precinct petition was previously submitted, but fell shy of the  threshold of verified voter signatures needed under the law. Jones said the resubmitted petition met the 90 signature threshold.

To trigger a local option election, a petition must bear the signatures of at least 25 percent of registered voters who cast ballots in the last general election. According to the Kentucky Board of Elections, there are 943 registered voters in the Central precinct and 538 in the Moore precinct. In November, only 359 voters in the Central precinct cast ballots along with 248 voters in the Moore precinct.

Only simple majority is needed for the measures to pass or fail in either precinct.

All of Ashland’s restaurants that are currently serving alcohol are located in those two precincts, as are all of Ashland’s package liquor stores. The Moore and Central precincts are among Ashland’s original wet precincts, which inspired the 1980 state law referred to as the “Ashland liquor law,” that law allowed individual precincts in second-class cities to have local option elections. Ashland was the only city at the time to which the law applied.

Ashland’s liquor law allows package sales and sales of liquor by the drink in establishments that make at least 50 percent of their revenue from the sale of food. Local officials differ on whether the passage of the measure will allow the sale of alcohol in package stores as well as restaurants. They are waiting on the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to weigh in on the matter.

Jones said the election will take place at one centralized polling location, to be determined. Members of the Boyd County Board of Elections will conduct the election in an effort to save money, she said. Still, the vote could cost Boyd County taxpayers as much as $9,000.

According to Jones, preparations for the election will begin some time next week. There will be time for new voters to register ahead of the election, as well as a time period for the casting of absentee voting.

The Ashland Sunday sales vote brings to three the number of special option elections set to take place in 2013 in FIVCO counties. Greenup County will hold a county-wide wet-dry election on Jan. 22. The Carter County precinct of North Midland Trail will hold one on Jan. 15.

All three votes were triggered by citizen-driven initiatives for economic development.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.