By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Voters in Corinth Tuesday approved legal liquor and wine sales by a margin of more than 2-1 in the first election under a new state law that allows city-only votes on liquor.
Unofficial totals of 2,641 votes for the measure and 1,150 votes against showed 70 percent of voters favored allowing the sale of liquor and wine, which had been outlawed since a countywide vote in 1989, while 30 percent opposed. Of those totals, 227 absentee ballots and about 50 affidavit ballots did not change the outcome.
In 1989 when the sale of liquor and wine was voted out, legal sale of beer was approved. Now for the first time in more than two decades beer, liquor and wine all will be legally available for sale in Corinth.
“I’m as pleased as can be,” said John Orman, who spearheaded the effort. “I’m really pleased that the vote was huge, with 68 percent of people saying this is what they want. It’s a landslide by any measure.”
Orman said he also was glad both sides of the issue approached the election in a civil manner, and he hopes they will be able to work together going forward for the good of the community.
No representatives of the opposition group – United Drys, which represents many of the area churches – were on site at City Hall after the election for comment.
Now city leaders will begin working on an ordinance to determine zoning and other issues relevant to sales. They have committed to including United Drys in those deliberations, said Corinth Mayor Pro tem J.C. Hill.
“We expect to finalize an ordinance within 30 days,” Hill said. “We haven’t set a specific meeting, but we have our regular board meeting next week.”
The sale of alcohol was defeated in Corinth most recently in 2005 under a countywide referendum vote.
Corinth supporters of legal liquor and wine sales pressed the state Legislature last year for the new law under which this election was held.
Senate Bill 2497, which took effect in January, permits any city of 5,000 or more population, or any county seat in a county which has voted against coming out from under the dry law, to hold an election to come out from under Mississippi’s dry law if 20 percent or more of the city’s registered voters sign a petition to do so. Corinth officials received petitions with more than 2,500 valid signatures, significantly more than the number required for Corinth’s approximately 9,000 registered voters.