Will petition to make city wet come up dry?

Jay Nolan
Jay Nolan

Back in the spring, a group of individuals began circulating a petition. They wanted to get enough signatures to compel the city of Barbourville into a wet/dry election this fall.

Clerk Mike Corey notes the law allows any group working such a petition six months from the date of the first signature to collect enough registered voter signatures to meet the requirements for an election to be held.

Well, the “unofficial” word on the street is those working the petition were waiting on Union College to get back into session. The thinking is, many students, and maybe some Union faculty, will be in favor of having alcohol in Barbourville.

I do not believe the majority of voters in the last election were from Union College.

Plus, not all of the students at Union live in Barbourville. Only those who live, and are also registered to vote here, count as valid signers of the petition.

And I bet some of the Union students who live here will not be interested in a local wet/dry petition. So, if after an entire summer, will the success or failure of the petition comes down to the college?

If that is the case, I think the petition is going to come up short.

Why do I say this? Three reasons. First, once again, the “they” who are circulating the petition are doing so without any one individual or group visibly heading up the project. If no one is willing to put his or her name and reputation behind something, often that represents a weakness for the cause. To my knowledge, no local elected official, community leader, or prominent individual has staked their reputation on, or even given a public endorsement to the petitioners. Can you think of one who has?

Secondly, there are several prominent church and civic group leaders who are visibly and vocally opposed to the city going wet.

And finally, remember the general election held last November had a hotly contested mayor’s race. So there was a higher voter turnout. Approximately 1,300 +/- votes were cast in the mayor’s election. So petitioners will have to have at least 25% of that number. That means they need about 325 valid signatures from qualified city voters on their petition. If only 400 had voted, only 100 signatures would have been required to get the issue on the ballot.

So, I think if there is to be a wet/dry election, it won’t be this fall. Am I wrong?

What do you think?