Organizers suspend campaign to bring vote on liquor

PHILADELPHIA — A petition drive for a liquor election in Philadelphia has been temporarily suspended, organizers say.

The Neshoba Democrat reports organizers say they will resume the drive once the Justice Department rules on a bill that allows a vote on legalizing liquor sales in cities like Philadelphia with populations of at least 5,000.

The law, once approved, would take effect July 1.

“We don’t want to have a petition deemed invalid if it is signed before clearance by the Justice Department,” said Jeremy Chalmers, spokesman for Philadelphia For a Vote.

Under the new law, an election can be ordered by the Board of Aldermen upon the presentation of a petition containing at least 20 percent of qualified voters.

Philadelphia Mayor James A. Young says he expects an election to be held on the issue.

Young said he realized the alcohol issue was emotional and controversial.

However, he said the city would not move to the next level of business growth, if the alcohol referendum does not pass.

“If we want to move to the next level, we cannot be content when everyone else is moving forward,” Young said.

Liquor is legal on at the nearby casinos run by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

If voters approve the sale of liquor, it would be up to the mayor and board of aldermen to set guidelines.

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