Wet County Initiative Begins in Faulkner County

The same group pushing for a vote in the November general election on whether retail alcohol sales should be allowed in Saline and Craighead counties is also beginning petition drives in Faulkner County.

The Our Community, Our Dollars committee says it will need about 24,800 signatures, or 38 percent of registered voters, in Faulkner County for the initiative to be on the November ballot. Jay Allen, president of Our Community, Our Dollars, said in a news release Wednesday that no petition drives would be held in Mayflower or Vilonia, two communities struck by a tornado April 27, so that relief efforts are not hampered.

Much like its reasoning for beginning petition drives in Saline and Craighead counties, the group says voters in Faulkner County have not had the opportunity to address the issue in quite some time. 

As of now, restaurants and hotels in Faulkner County must register as a private club to sell alcohol. 

"Faulkner County is quickly growing, and we want residents to have the opportunity to keep more sales tax revenue in their community," Allen said in the news release. "By keeping this tax income in Faulkner, the county can better fund needed services and amenities such as police, fire, [emergency medical services], roads and parks."

As in Saline and Craighead counties, Our Community, Our Dollars has enlisted the help of National Ballot Access to implement the petition drive in Faulkner County. A majority of the petition drive is expected to be completed in Conway.

To have the issue on the November ballot, the required signatures must be gathered by early July and sent to the county clerk's office in Faulkner County for verification. 

The Faulkner County petition drive adds to a growing list of wet county initiatives in Arkansas, including the ones in Saline, Craighead and Columbia counties, in addition to an initiative by David Couch to add an amendment to the state constitution that would make every county in the state wet or dry.

Allen, a former Wal-Mart executive, and Treasurer Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants, lead the committee, which is funded by Arkansas retailers, including key sponsors Wal-Mart and Kum & Go.

The general election is Nov. 4.