Petition circulating around Stanford in support of allowing alcohol sales

Published 11:41 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

STANFORD — A Stanford man has started the push to allow alcohol sales in the city.

Michael Hargis started circulating a petition around the city of Stanford last week that seeks to get an alcohol legalization vote on the November ballot.

Hargis officially filed the petition on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 3:49 p.m. in the office of County Clerk George O. “Sonny” Spoonamore IV and began putting the petition in convenience stores across town to start collecting signatures from registered voters.

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Hargis said community concerns prompted him to file the petition.

“It’s the people in town,” he said. “Our town is stale. We’re starting to look for economic growth any way we can. If we can draw in anything that can help put people to work or boost the economy … A lot of the alcohol taxes, depending on class of the city, go to the police, fire and rescue.”

“I’m not going to quote nobody, but I know there’s big support. We’ve got to do something to help these gentlemen out. They put their lives on the line and they are driving cars that are old, payrolls that are substantial. Stanford is lagging so far behind. We need some new leadership and we need some new things coming in. That’s what everybody’s told me and that’s why I’m pursuing this.”

Hargis, who said, “I haven’t drunk a sip of alcohol probably in 30 years,” says he’s seen surprised by the response to the petition

“I’ve been more than shocked. The age group goes from 18 to 80,” he said. “It looks like we’re going to probably have 600-700 registered voters that are going to sign this petition by the time I get it in and get something done for it.”

“Everybody talks about prostitutes on every corner and drunks laying on the street. Well, look at Lancaster. No. Look at the police department. It’s all been bulked up from revenues. Look at Danville, they are a shining example. It’s time that we pushed forward, moved into the 21st century.”

Since 1,392 registered voters cast a vote in the last general election, Hargis would need to collect 348 signatures of registered voters – or 25 percent of the 1,392 – to get the option approved by Judge-Executive Jim W. Adams to be placed on the November ballot.

However, there is a big roadblock in the way of Hargis’ petition drive. County Attorney Daryl K. Day says that, even if the signatures Hargis gets are verified by the County Clerk’s office, making sure they belong to registered Lincoln County voters, the issue will not be on the November ballot.

“The deadline to get on the ballot is the second Tuesday of August preceding the next election,” Day said. “He filed for the petition after the deadline so it (wet/dry option) cannot, by law, be on the November ballot.”

When asked if he knew he filed past the deadline and if he was still pushing to get the option on the November ballot, Hargis admitted he was aware of the deadline and responded, “I’ve got no comment on that at this point and time.”

The last wet/dry vote in Stanford was in October of 2009. Eight hundred forty-three of 2,400 eligible voters cast a ballot in the election and the citizens voted to remain dry by a vote of 499 to 344.

“Everybody makes fun of me for this, that I don’t drink personally, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to the people of the city if they want economic growth. That’s the bottom line right there.” Hargis said of the wet/dry petition. “If you go to Lancaster or go to Danville. If you look at the wet cities around us, their DUI’s, their arrests, everything is way down from a dry city. People that go and make a stupid mistake of opening a beer driving home.”

Whichever way any future wet/dry vote goes, Hargis says he just wants a strong turnout.

“If it’s going to be no, let it be no overwhelmingly. If it’s going to be yes, let it be overwhelmingly yes.”