I am writing this letter in response to the article in The Blount Countian regarding Keep Blount County Special’s intent to appeal Judge King’s ruling on the constitutionality of the legislation that prevented towns in Blount County with a population of 1,000 or more from being able to vote wet or dry.
Since Cleveland was mentioned in this article, I felt a response was warranted. I and the town council unanimously support Oneonta’s right to vote on the wet-dry issue. As far as I am concerned, this is much bigger than wet or dry. It is about a group of people trying to stop the people of Oneonta and three other towns in this county from having the same rights as other cities and towns in other counties.
I felt like it was unconstitutional when legislation exempting Blount County and two other counties was passed. After it went to court and I heard both sides argue their case, I was certain that it would be ruled so. Judge King’s ruling was handed down and I got a chance to read it and I understand why it took so long to write. It was a well-written opinion based on facts and precedents, not on fear and personal feelings. It went straight to the heart of the matter and shows how wrong this piece of legislation is that excludes these three counties.
In my opinion, this ruling had nothing to do with selling or not selling alcohol in Blount County. It was based on equal protection under the law and our right to self-determination through the right to vote.
I would stand in the street and fight, if need be, to protect the right to freedom of religion so the pastors in the article could continue to have the right to practice their beliefs the way they want to. I would ask that they respect our right to vote. The only people that need to decide if Cleveland votes on a wet dry referendum is the people of Cleveland. I as mayor will not take a stand on the good or bad of alcohol sales. That is for the people of Cleveland to decide.