2nd petition to get wine in grocery stores on Nov. 4 ballot in Burns facing election commission review

While efforts by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association to get wine-in-grocery-stores referendums on the Nov. 4 ballots in Dickson, White Bluff, Burns and Charlotte failed, a citizen-organized effort to put the question on the ballot in Burns is still alive. Dickson County Administrator of Elections Linda Medley said a separate petition seeking to put the question before Burns voters will be considered by the Dickson County Election Commission at its Sept. 16 meeting. At its meeting last week, the five-member election commission rejected petitions submitted by the grocer association’s non-profit group Red White and Food, which organized petition drives across the state. Election officials said none of the group’s petitions met the requirement of having the minimum qualified voter signatures equal to 10 percent of the votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election, which in Burns would be 34 signatures. But apparently a separate petition effort organized by citizens of Burns was not presented to the commission last week. The commissioners did approve a citizen-organized petition to put a referendum on allowing liquor by the drink in Burns on the Nov. 4 ballot. Burns Mayor Landon Mathis said while he did not participate in the petition drives, he had been told the liquor-by-the-drink and wine-in-grocery-stores petition drives had been conducted simultaneously and should contain mostly the same signatures. Medley said the election commission only reviewed the Red White and Food group petitions, which all failed to collect the required minimum number of signatures of qualified voters, but did not review the separate petition from Burns. The legislature left it up to the voters in individual municipalities to decide whether to allow wine sales in grocery stores, which has been hotly debated for years. If approved by the voters, grocery stores with at least 1,200 square feet of retail sales space that generate at least 20 percent of their income from food sales would be allowed to begin selling wine in 2016. Burns voters already will be voting on whether to allow mixed drink sales on the Nov. 4 ballot and, if the latest petition is approved by the election commission, could be voting whether to allow wine sales in grocery stores. The Burns ballot also features a contested race for mayor and five candidates seeking four seats on the Burns Board of Commissioners. The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 6.