DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- A controversy over Sunday alcohol sales in Douglasville has awakened two, sleeping giants. Both of them tried to squeeze into Douglasville's tiny city hall Monday night to see whether the city council would override the mayor's veto, and put the controversy on the November ballot.
And with little discussion, the seven council members voted unanimously against the mayor, and voted for a city-wide referendum on whether to allow retail sales of alcohol on Sundays in Douglasville's shops and supermarkets.
Crowds on both sides of the issue spilled out of the council chambers, lining both sides of a long hallway, filling the lobby and spilling outside onto the sidewalk on Church Street.
It was two weeks ago when the council first voted unanimously to schedule the referendum on Sunday alcohol sales.
But a week ago, Mayor Harvey Persons vetoed the measure, saying that relaxing laws restricting alcohol sales would harm public safety.
Monday night, some in the crowds held homemade signs that read, "We stand with Mayor Persons."
Others wore yellow lapel stickers: "LUV: Let Us Vote."
"There's no public safety issue on somebody voting on alcohol on Sunday," Council Member Carl Pope told 11Alive's Jon Shirek. "What is the public safety issue, somebody is going to get killed on the way to the polls? No. The people have a right to vote."
"I've not ever seen any stats that say where communities were made safer because of enabling more drinking laws or relaxing the laws," Stephen Shook said standing with his wife, Becky. Both are members of King's Way Baptist Church in Douglas County. They said members of many denominations across the county oppose Sunday alcohol sales because, like the mayor, they believe it would harm public safety.
"Our community-at-large is safer, the stricter the drinking laws," he said. "We want to keep it as safe as we can."
Voters in counties and municipalities all across metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia have been approving Sunday sales of alcohol since last year when the legislature authorized the local referenda.
The Douglas County Commission, though, has not decided yet whether to put the issue on its ballot, county-wide.
As of now, the only vote in Douglas County will be within the city limits of Douglasville.
Also on Monday night, the city council overrode another veto by Mayor Persons, deciding to go ahead, over his objections, and allow bars and restaurants in the city to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. on Sundays.