Wet/dry question in front of Madison Co. voters for first time since early 1900s

Wet/dry question in front of Madison Co. voters for first time since early 1900s
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 2:52 PM EDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Early voting is underway for the Kentucky 2023 primary election.

In Madison County, while the race for governor is the big-ticket item on their ballot, they also have to pay attention to one specific yes or no question.

On the sample ballot, it reads, “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages within Madison County, Kentucky.’ It’s a question Madison County voters haven’t seen since the early 1900s.

“We’re kind of one of the last holdouts in central Kentucky,” said Wesley Browne, a proponent of county-wide alcohol sales. “A lot of economic development stays away from dry areas in Kentucky intentionally. They stay out of those areas because it’s viewed as an area that’s antiquated, undeveloped, and hard to do business in.”

Browne knows this to be true because he’s co-owner of Apollo Pizza, which has a location in a dry area of northern Madison County.

“That location right now we’re only open two and a half days a week. a big part of that is because it’s dry. our employees don’t like to work there as much because the tips aren’t as good and it’s not, kind of, as interesting of a workplace.”

Browne says he’s not only passionate about this because he owns a business. He says it’s hard to see his community be held back.

“Property value should rise once this goes wet. Suddenly, the real estate is more attractive because it’s wet,” said Browne. “Where we’re standing, I can drive two miles into Fayette County and I can drink at a restaurant.”

As of now, the city of Richmond is entirely wet and Berea is moist, meaning restaurants can sell alcohol by the drink but there aren’t any liquor stores. Browne says if the entire county could be wet, it would cause less confusion, especially to visitors.

“We’re so close. I just hope that people aren’t complacent. We can’t assume it’s going to win,” said Browne.

However, there are opponents to Madison County going dry. According to WEKU, various pastors at area churches have spoken out against it. We reached out and haven’t heard back.

If the vote passes, it wouldn’t necessarily take effect right away. There are some logistics that go into it.