ALBANY, Ga. -- On a split 5-2 vote, the Albany City Commission tentatively moved Tuesday to call for a public vote on whether patrons can buy packaged alcohol on Sundays.
If the vote stands at the city's night meeting later this month, the public will have the opportunity to vote on the measure when it heads to the polls for municipal elections in November.
Offered by Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Roger Marietta, the measure passed with "yes" votes from all but Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard and Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell.
A potentially polarizing political issue, the measure, as it was voted on Tuesday, will allow grocery, convenience and liquor stores to sell beer, wine and liquor between the hours of 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays within the city limits if the voters approve it in November.
In explaining his dissent, Postell said that he felt the city was moving too fast on the issue, and he even went so far as to question the motives of some on the commission.
"The ink isn't even dry on the governor's bill yet. I don't see the need to jam this onto the table today; we need to research it," Postell said.
"If we put it on the ballot, we're telling the people that the city is endorsing this."
Others on the commission disagreed.
"Citizens should have the right to vote," Ward II Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard said. "If they vote it up or down, we'll do as they say. Our own personal feelings shouldn't enter into it."
Albany Mayor Willie Adams, who asked Langstaff to consider bumping the time that liquor would be accessible to 2 p.m. "out of consideration for those who choose to worship," also disagreed with Postell's assertion.
"No, no, that's not it. We're not endorsing anything. Up or down, we're talking about letting people vote," Adams said.
Last week, the Dougherty County Commission briefly discussed the matter without taking any action.
Some on the County Commission said they felt the City Commission should take the lead on the issue given that 140 of the 161 licensed alcohol retailers in Dougherty County operate within the corporate city limits.