Prentiss County liquor referendum loses in lopsided results

By NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Prentiss County voters soundly rejected an effort to legalize alcohol sales in the county with about 63 percent of voters against coming out from under Mississippi dry laws.
Official vote totals showed 2,167 voters supported the referendum while 3,657 voted against it in Tuesday’s special election.
Of the county’s more than 17,000 voters, the issue stirred the interest of little more than a third of voters – about 34 percent – which included about 200 absentees.
The coalition of private citizens, churches and businesses that fought the measure saw their efforts through an expansive public information campaign pay off.
Opposition spokesman Bro. Lee Dillard of Tuscumbia Baptist Church said previously that the group had been running ads on various radio stations, sponsored billboards, had newspaper ads and also staged crash scenes to demonstrate negative results of introducing alcohol into the community.
The Citizens for New Business and Growth, led by Gary Walker, launched the petition drive that resulted in Tuesday’s election after an August referendum in Booneville to legalize beer and light wine sales in the city failed by 21 votes.
Supporters of legalizing alcohol sales say it will add to the tax revenue and also be an economic development tool.
As final machine totals for the 15 precincts were counted at Prentiss County courthouse Tuesday, Walker lashed out verbally at observers in the county courtroom who had worked to defeat the referendum.
Walker warned opponents of alcohol and beer again that once he has the sufficient signatures on petitions, he plans to force a countywide beer vote.
An opposition observer later commented that with the cost of special elections at $12,000-$15,000, their best strategy might be to campaign urging people to not sign the petition.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com