The voted unanimously, during their Monday night meeting, to allow citizens to vote for or against Sunday sales on a Nov. 6 ballot referendum. The Council also voted five-to-two to allow restaurants to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. Sunday. Sunday pouring hours will also be extended from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The two votes overrode two vetoes made by Mayor Harvey Persons last week.
Those who voted to override the Mayor's veto on extended pouring hours were the same Council members who originally voted for the measure: Larry Yockey, Carl Pope, Samuel Davis, LaShun Burr-Danley and Doug Lequire. Those voting against were: Council members Dennis McLain and Mark Adams.
The Council's vote remained the same despite the fact that many people from the overcrowded Council chamber addressed the Council, urging them to change their vote.
Lequire addressed the Council after the meeting, saying inside the Council Chamber there was an overwhelming majority of people who opposed the alcohol measures but the opposite was true outside of the chamber.
"They were successful in creating this to be a religious issue because there were mostly pastors who were developing this thing and most people were intimidated by that," he said. "They didn't want to stand up. They were afraid it would sound like they were for alcoholics. Only a few brave souls got up and spoke at all. But outside, there was a tremendous amount of support to do this."
Both owner Neil Jenkins and owner John Freer said their two restaurants would take advantage of the new pouring hours, and stay open later, on the first day it was allowed, which will be this Saturday, May 26.
City Manager Bill Osborne confirmed that the law will go into effect immediately.