Despite past failures, a group of Elkhorn City residents recently started a petition process to again put the question of alcohol sales on the ballot.
During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Elkhorn City Council, resident Gypsy Cantrell-Ratliff informed the council of a petition that has been signed by a number of people who live in the city, who are in favor the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city.
“I’m here to let city government know that a group of citizens have gotten together and we have filed an intent for an election to be posted on the November ballot for wet and dry in Elkhorn City,” Cantrell-Ratliff said.
The petition asks for the following measure to be placed on the ballot: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Elkhorn City, Kentucky.” This is not the first occasion this particular subject has come up for possible election, as it has been a hot button issue in years past for the city. Similar petitions have been signed before, with the last attempt, she said, coming in 2018. However, due to changes in the law, the process had to start over.
Despite the number of people who signed petitions in the past in favor of making Elkhorn City “wet”, the topic has drawn heated debate throughout the city in the past, as a majority of the voters in the city have voted against the sale of alcohol. Cantrell-Ratliff, who has been opposed to making Elkhorn City “wet” in the past, due to what she said in 2009 was the city’s lack of an economic development plan, is on board for the change this time, as she informed the council.
“This is something I want to be upfront about, I was not for it last time, but I am for it this time,” she said. “Because the law has changed as far as the kind of authority that city government has over alcoholic beverage laws.”
According to Cantrell-Ratliff, city government can now acquire more fees than previously before and can determine whether a city wants to have standalone bars or not.
However, she said one of the things the city needs to do is handle the matter civilly, as opposed to years past when the the topic divided the residents of Elkhorn City. According to Cantrell-Ratliff, the last time Elkhorn City had a wet-dry election “some of the nastiest stuff (she’s) ever heard” came out of people’s mouths, as the debate whether to be for or against raged on. Cantrell-Ratliff even said that during a previous year’s wet-dry debate, a local church received a complaint filed against them, trying to take their tax exempt status away for standing in opposition.
“To insult people because they are for this is wrong, just like it is wrong to insult people who are against it, things like that are wrong,” Cantrell-Ratliff said. “This is an option that we can put on the ballot, that will benefit this city that has no revenue.”
According to her, there is now a certain percentage of revenue from the sale of alcohol that automatically goes to the police department, a service she said could always use the money.
“We will have a campaign from now until November and, during this process, we plan on putting out information that are facts,” Cantrell-Ratliff said. “It’s going to come from cities that are similar to Elkhorn City, and who have passed this option.
“These facts will tell you how much money the city has obtained by being ‘wet’ and there will also be facts stating if and how much crime change has been made,” she added.
Cantrell-Ratliff said the petition has been approved by the Pike County Clerk’s office and is now in the Pike Judge-Executive’s office. According to her, Pike Judge-Executive Ray Jones would “sign it into the order book today.” The petition then goes to the Pike County Sheriff’s office to be taken to the Pike County Board of Elections so it can be put on the ballot.
The city council did not comment on the petition, which, if successful, could see the return of alcohol sales to Elkhorn City for the first time in more than 50 years.