March 28, 2012 Share

Weddle: Progress Somerset has the required signatures

Progress Somerset is making progress toward its goal — a vote for alcohol sales in town.

David Weddle, founder of the Progress Somerset group — which launched last weekend with  the mailing of petitions to voters in the city limits — confirmed to the Commonwealth Journal that the target number of signatures had been received.

On the group’s Facebook page, an update was posted Friday stating, “We have accomplished our goal!”

What Weddle wasn’t ready to say yet was exactly how many petitions have been mailed back in favor of the group’s goal of a vote to allow package and individual drink sales of alcohol within Somerset.

However, Weddle noted last week that with 2,013 city voters participating in the last general election, the number of petitions needed to get the “wet/dry” vote on the ballot would be 504.

“All I want to do is let people know we surpassed the magic number,” said Weddle. “We wanted to get as many in as possible.”

That’s why Weddle isn’t ending the call for petitions just yet. He said that he will be announcing the total number of signatures soon — possibly by next weekend — and will give more time to get additional petitions in. He expects it’s likely that the county clerk will have to disqualify a number of them for one reason or another, and so the more received, the better.

“The goal here is to get those petitions filed and plenty of additions needed to make sure we will stand up to muster of the county clerk,” he said.

However, Weddle said that he will announce both tallies — both those for and those against a special option election.

“I think that will be really important to show,” he said. “We didn’t just ask for positive (petition signatures for a vote), but also for people who do not want to do it.”

David Carr, a clergyman, owner and operator of King of Kings Radio, and the founder of the KIDS (Keep It Dry and Safe) group that’s opposed to alcohol sales in the county, said that he and his group are “disappointed” to hear that Progress Somerset reached its goal, but not necessarily surprised.

“I think everybody in Somerset expected them to get the petitions,” he said. “The secret in overcoming that petition will be the churches and pastors standing against it. The KIDS organization will do all we can to oppose it.”

Carr told the Commonwealth Journal earlier in the week that the issue of alcohol sales is “really not about economics as Mr. Weddle has said, “but that “the sale of alcohol will steal money from the local appliance, furniture and grocery stores.” He also claimed that “the opportunity (Weddle) speaks of will only create potential harm and danger to drivers and pedestrians.”

Weddle responded to those comments by saying, “I absolutely respect David Carr’s positions and I understand where he’s coming from on this, but my concern is that I think all of us have individual rights. I will honor and respect what he has to say but I would respect the same in return.”

He added that there is “no animosity or ill intent to anyone opposed to (alcohol sales). This is an individual right of choice.”

Weddle has stated that the goal of alcohol sales in currently “dry” Somerset is “about economic development, jobs, and giving people new opportunities.”

Commonwealth Journal – Somerset

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