ALBANY, Ga. -- In a discussion that pitted democratic principles versus spiritual beliefs, the Albany City Commission ultimately decided in a split vote that voters' right to decide the Sunday alcohol sales issue outweighed their personal views.
The 5-2 vote Tuesday was to ask the Dougherty County Board of Elections to call a public vote, or referendum, on whether beer, wine and liquor can be sold in the package between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Sundays at stores within the city limits.
Commissioner Tommie Postell, who joined with Commissioner Jon Howard in voting against the measure, stated Tuesday that he believed the commission was moving too fast in calling for the referendum without properly researching the matter and went even further to say that selling alcohol on Sunday violates the tenets of his faith and the commandment by his God to "keep the Sabbath holy."
"I just feel strongly on this issue," Postell said. "I'm not a holy, holy, roller but I am religious and I believe it when the Bible says to 'keep the Sabbath holy,' that it's something we should do."
Postell felt so strongly that the commission should at least temper its haste in calling for the referendum that he attempted to have the vote tabled until further research on the impact Sunday sales would have on crime and any subsequent costs to the city could be done.
Seconded by Howard, the vote to table was denied 2-5.
After the vote to table failed, several commissioners stated their personal feelings about drinking but each said that they believed the public should have a right to vote on the matter.
"I don't drink alcohol but it's an issue I think should be put to the voters," Mayor Pro Tem Roger Marietta said. "In fact, I may end up being like Gov. (Nathan) Deal and voting against it, but I think people should have the opportunity."
"I don't drink. I'm a Christian and I don't believe people should drink on the Sabbath, but I feel strongly that people should have the right to vote and that this referendum should be called," Ward II Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard said.
"I do drink alcohol and I think the people should be allowed to vote on the matter," Mayor Willie Adams said. "Unless I'm mistaken, God's first major miracle was turning water to wine. And I drink wine. So let's move the issue on."
The Dougherty County Commission has briefly discussed the matter, but has yet to take a formal vote.
City Attorney Nathan Davis said Tuesday that local governments could wait until the end of July before making a formal decision and still have the matter put on the ballot.
In other action, the commission unanimously adopted a resolution honoring the girls track team at Monroe Comprehensive High School.
The Lady Golden Tornadoes won their third straight track title at the recent Georgia High School Association state track meet here.
Coach LaToyia Johnson and track team member Schemika Carter accepted the resolution on behalf of the team from former Monroe assistant principal and Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell.
After the meeting, Johnson said that she was "blessed to have such a talented group of young ladies," and thanked God for the ability to coach them.