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Beer/wine petition debate continues, May is goal

Cindy Roller
Cooper Review

Following the regular session of the Delta County Commissioners Court Monday morning presided over by Precinct Two Commissioner Max Moody, the petition for beer/wine sales off-premise seems to be no closer to finding its way to the November ballot.

Commissioner Moody and the other commissioners (in the absence of Delta County Judge Herb Brookshire) accepted the petition presented by County Clerk Jane Jones provided to her on Aug. 8, 2014.

Of the 626 signatures, 47 were disqualified however the remaining 579 signatures were sufficient enough to meet the minimum for the election code requirements. Within three minutes the Court accepted the petition into record with a vote of 4-0.

Delta County resident Kathy Mariner, circulator of the petition, spoke in behalf of the petition presented.

“As I walked around the neighborhoods and homes outside the city limits, my focus changed. Of course there were many people who welcomed these beverages that could be sold here,” said Kathy Mariner, noting some did not see a merit in the election. “As I continued to knock on doors, more and more people brought up the fact that the County could benefit from the sales tax staying inside our County instead of the outlying communities which are already wet. They want more for their County. They told me they thought Delta County was dying and why couldn’t we generate more jobs and make it a County that people want to come here.”

In closing she summarized the statistics of the 254 Texas counties, 11 are dry, 194 are partially wet (beer and wine only) and 49 are completely wet (beer, wine and mixed drinks).

“These numbers show me that there is some merit to being wet because there are some counties that are still trying to better their revenue by keeping the sales tax in their own County,” said Mariner. “If we can get some revenue coming into our County – no matter if it is large or small amount – it is more than we had.”

She accompanied her statement with a formal letter from her lawyer R. Wesley Tidwell of Ellis & Tidwell, L.L.P. in Paris. He stated he had found nothing which would preclude this from being placed on the May ballot.

“I must ask that your office keep in mind that it is without authority to make a final determination on a petition that is returned following the issuance of an application for a petition. I believe the relevant statue to be TEC 501.031 which requires the voter registrar to verify the signatures and then certify to the commissioners’ court the number of qualified voters signing the petition. Section 501.032 then sets forth the court’s duties in ordering the election. …That section does not contain any language that would preclude the Delta Commissioners from placing this measure on the May 2015 ballot which obviously is an odd-numbered year,” stated the attorney in the letter addressed to Jones, requesting assurance this petition receive warranted attention within 30 days from the date it was filed.

Jane Jones replied with her own public statement. She went on to define reasons for each unqualified signature, reassuring the Court she was not emotionally involved.

“This does not include the City. They are their own municipality and would have to have their own election to change the status of the election (which was held in the 1970s),” she said. “I have served the public to the best of my ability. The decision for any election is the voters – not mine or anyone in this office.”

Delta County resident Jerry Jones was given his four minutes of public comment.

“It is America. We should be allowed to vote on it,” said Jerry Jones, not pleased with the confusion of the deadline dates set forth by the Clerk’s office. “This is the second time this scenario has happened. Something does not add up.”

The Court will meet for a regular meeting again on Monday, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. on the third floor of the Delta County Courthouse.

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