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News Local News Erwin Elections

Whether by drink or bottle, Unicoi to vote on liquor legality

August 26th, 2014 10:28 pm by Brad Hicks

Whether by drink or bottle, Unicoi to vote on liquor legality

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Election Commission has made it official - voters residing within the town of Erwin will have the opportunity to decide if liquor by drink and the establishment of retail liquor stores will be permitted in the town’s limits.

The commission met Tuesday morning to certify the candidates for the Nov. 4 municipal election and to review and certify any petitions submitted for referendum.

Last week, a pair of petitions was submitted of the election commission office - one allowing for liquor by the drink in the town of Erwin, and the other pertaining to liquor stores.

Per statute, for the referendums to appear on the November ballot, each petition had to be signed by 10 percent of the total of Erwin’s voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election. This meant that each petition required 153 signatures for their respective referendums to appear on the ballot.

Unicoi County Administrator of Elections Sarah Bailey said each of the petitions garnered the required number of valid signatures prior to Thursday’s petition submission deadline. Bailey said the liquor by the drink petition had 160 valid signatures, and the retail liquor store petition had 175 signatures.

“As far as I know, looking over all of this, I recommend that both do meet the guidelines of the law and should be put on the city of Erwin ballot,” Bailey said.

Members of the election commission present at Tuesday’s meeting unanimously voted to certify the petitions. Bailey said the referendums will appear on the ballot below the candidates for the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Bailey also said if either referendum is passed, it would allow someone to petition for wine to be sold in Erwin grocery stores during the next general election in November 2016. Bailey said the town of Unicoi, which previously passed both liquor by the drink and retail package store referendums, could have petitioned for the sale of wine in grocery stores, but she said no such petition was submitted by Thursday’s deadline.

The election commission also certified the candidates seeking seats on the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Bailey said eight people took out petitions to seek three open seats on the Erwin panel, with six returning petitions by Thursday qualifying deadline. Those returning petitions were Ron Arnold, Michael Baker, David Seagroves, Gary Chandler, Virgil Moore and Stephen Wilson.

Four people took out petitions to seek two spots on the town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen, with three returning petitions, Bailey said. The candidates for these seats will be Kathy Bullen, Phil Hensley and Jeff Linville.

The petition for these offices requires 25 valid signatures. Terms on both of the municipal boards are staggered, and other seats on the boards, as will as each town’s mayoral post, will be decided in the 2016 election.

The commission also set early voting times for the November election. Early voting will take place from Oct. 15 through Oct. 30. Early voting times during this period will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. 

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