By MYRA THRIFT, Staff Writer
The leaders of Waycross and Ware County finally succeeded in satisfying that segment of the people bent on having sales of alcohol on Sunday here as three referendums regarding the matter were approved by local voters here Tuesday.
And Ware County Commission Chairman Jimmy Brown — as expected — was re-elected for an unprecedented third term by a landslide vote.
Sunday alcohol passed in two city votes (by the glass in restaurants and by the retail package in stores), and the law will take effect as of Sunday, Raphel Maddox, city manager, said Tuesday night.
The question was answered in the affirmative — “yes” to alcoholic drinks by the glass in restaurants — in the county’s jurisdiction … where there are scant few restaurants at present.
Sunday sales in the county jurisdiction drew 6,329 “yes” votes and 5,713 “no” votes, a margin of 52.56 to 47.44 percent.
Inside the city limits, the question of Sunday sales by the drink passed by a vote of 1,980 (61.28 percent) to 1,251 (38.72 percent).
The question of package sales of alcohol on Sundays in the city passed by a vote of 1,776 (55.47 percent) “yes” to 1,426 (44.53 percent) “no.”
It seemed apparent that a “yes” vote was inevitable sooner or later as the ballot issue kept being resurrected despite multiple defeats at the polls in previous election cycles.
Nobody had to guess how Brown was feeling about the election results Tuesday night (Wednesday morning), the joy of winning was like a light in his face.
Brown won his bid for a third term as county commission chairman, a feat never before achieved by any candidate here.
A total of 12,273 (75.51 percent) of Ware County’s 16,254 registered voters turned out for the election, the heaviest in recent history.
“I am delighted and grateful to the taxpayers of Ware County for allowing me to serve a third term,” said Brown. “I take great pride in what I do — the county is out of debt, we have a $5.4 million balance, have not borrowed money in four years and have no TANS notes to pay back. I plan to continue to serve the people just as I have for the last eight years.”
Brown said his motto is, was and always will be “government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is not about Jimmy Brown. It’s about the people I serve. I deeply appreciate the honor the people have bestowed on me.”
Brown was challenged by political newcomer Carl Sears for the chairman’s seat.
Unofficial results from the vote count Tuesday night showed that Brown received 8,634 votes (74.49 percent) while Sears pulled in 2,953 (25.48 percent).
With no opposition on the ballot, Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal got 98.89 percent (10,663) of the vote, Jerry Pope garnered 99.52 percent (2,931) of the vote in his race for county commissioner District 2, Steve Barnard (3,262) pulled in 99.36 percent of the vote in his bid for county commissioner District 4 and Roger Collins (10,193) showed a 99.19 percent take to remain Ware County Tax Commissioner.
Amendments on the ballot were split.
Amendment 1 (failing schools issue) was defeated by a vote of 7,532 “no” to 4,117 “yes.”
Amendment 2 (establish safe harbor fund) passed by a wide margin, the “yes” votes totaling 9,438 (81 percent), and the “no” votes tally was 2,115 (18.3 percent).
Amendment 3 (judicial qualifications) passed by a margin of 6,911 for “yes” to 3,977 for “no.”
Amendment 4 (fireworks tax allocation to help burned children) passed by a wide margin of 8,973 to 2,521.