Conyers in no hurry to set Sunday alcohol referendum

CONYERS -- Nailing down Georgia's Presidential Preference Primary to be held on March 6 gives the city of Conyers a clear path of calling for a referendum on allowing Sunday retail sale of alcohol.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced last week Georgia's presidential primary will be held on March 6 with several other states holding primaries and caucuses

The move was the first after the General Assembly passed a law allowing the Georgia Secretary of State to chose the Presidential Preference Primary date. Before this year, the date was fixed by law on the first Tuesday of February in a presidential election year.

Kemp's choice also follows a rule by the National Republican Committee of when states can hold their presidential primary. This year, only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are allowed to hold primaries and caucuses before March 6 without risk of losing delegates to the national party convention.

Locally, the March 6 presidential primary is also the target for a proposed referendum on Sunday retail alcohol sales in the city of Conyers.

City officials canceled municipal elections set for November due to the two incumbents running without opposition and only one challenger qualified to succeed Councilman Marty Jones, who chose not to seek re-election.

The Sunday alcohol referendum was proposed to be held with the city elections. City Manager Tony Lucas said holding the referendum by itself in November would have been costly to the city. Lucas said the cost to the city for the election with only referendum question would cost about $7,000. To hold the referendum on either the presidential, primary or general elections would cost about $100.

Lucas said the city council has not made a decision yet on when the referendum would be held.

"It really hasn't been a hot-button topic with the council or with the residents for that matter," he said. "The question that comes up now is when do we pose this question to our residents and that leads to political considerations. The county told us if they were to hold this referendum, they would do it during the general election. We certainly wanted to get a cross section of all our residents and to do so in November with no contested races would only get about 1 or 2 percent of the voters."

Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said the city will need to notify her office before Nov. 19, the last date the county Board of Elections can call a special election for March 6. Lucas said the city council will have to make a decision by the end of this month, if they wish to hold the referendum in March.

Locally, the presidential primary was the final date to be set on the 2012 election calendar.

Presidential Preference Primary, March 6: Voting by mail runs from Jan. 20 through March 2 and early in-person voting runs weekdays from Feb. 14 through March 2. Voter registration deadline is Feb. 6.

General Primary and Non-Partisan Election, July 31: Voting by mail runs from June 15 through July 27 and early in-person voting runs weekdays from July 9 through July 27. Voter registration deadline is July 2.

Primary runoff elections, if necessary, are scheduled for Aug. 21.

General Election, Nov. 6, 2012: Voting by mail runs from Sept. 21 through Nov. 2 and early, in-person voting runs on weekdays from Oct. 15 through Nov. 2.

General runoff elections, if necessary, are scheduled for Dec. 4.