By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – City residents who like the quality of life they enjoy in a dry community can breathe easy after Tuesday’s election that defeated legalizing beer and light wine in Booneville.
The unofficial tally was 1,362 against and 1,341 in favor of passing the measure. Poll workers finished tallying votes around midnight.
Final vote counts for individuals who voted at the polls on Tuesday were 1,242 for legalizing beer sales and 1,250 against, an 8-vote margin to defeat the measure.
Of 207 absentee ballots, 178 were counted and resulted in an outcome that defeated legal beer sales. Now the issue is off the table for the city for at least five years. By law, the election may not be held more than once every five years.
“This is not something that would help our city,” said Pastor Tracy Arnold of The Vineyard Church. “It’s not progress by any means, though it’s been misrepresented as such. Prosperity is connected to our spiritual well-being. Paul said ‘I would that you prosper and be in good health as your soul prospers.’”
Supporters began working in April to gather the number of signatures needed on a petition to force a vote on the issue. A total of 1,245 validated signatures were submitted to the city board in early July, meeting the legal requirement that at least 20 percent of the city’s 6,126 qualified voters sign the petition. Before this year, the last vote to legalize beer in Booneville was held 27 years ago.
Gary Walker, who spearheaded the petition drive supported by Citizens for New Business and Growth, said throughout the campaign that he was working to bring more economic opportunity to the community.
“Our whole goal was to give the people of Booneville a chance to decide, and they turned out in greater numbers than in the election for mayor and aldermen,” Walker said. “That says people consider alcohol more important than who is going to lead the city, and the majority of people in Booneville do not want alcohol.”
Walker interprets the outcome is city residents’ satisfaction with the status quo, continuing “in a downward spiral and continuing to send tax dollars from Booneville to other communities.”
New Albany passed a beer ordinance in April, a Pontotoc County resident began a drive last month to permit alcohol in the county and a Tishomingo County resident launched a similar effort this past weekend.
Though the city of Oxford permits beer sales, it has wrestled with the issue of permitting the sale of beer on Sundays.
Results not including absentee ballots and affidavit votes from the Booneville beer vote by ward:
Final results here as soon as they are released.