Candidate wants ‘at-large’ voting policy in the hands of Marion voters

Candidate wants ‘at-large’ voting policy in the hands of Marion voters

‘ It’s not too late to place it on the ballot,’ says Holliman, wants voters to consider ‘ by- ward’ voting

A former Marion city councilwoman is proposing two ballot measures for the November election that would allow voters in Marion to decide whether they want Marion political wards to remain elected atlarge or strictly by ward, and to allow for alcohol sales by the drink.

Sherry Holliman asked the Marion City Council to consider passing ordinances so that the measures could appear on the November ballot.

“I called the state and they told me it’s not too late to place it on the ballot,” Holliman told the council. “It’s no extra cost. It’s just an ordinance that you all agree to place on the ballot or not.”

Holliman brought the idea to the council back in September 2016 to do away with at-large voting but no action was ever taken to advance the idea.

This time she wants to let the voters decide which system of electing their local representatives they want.

“I want the opportunity to allow the constituents to vote in November for atlarge or by ward,” Holliman, who is running for her old seat on the council, said. “I came to you last year with this request but the council denied the request. So instead of you all making the choice, allowing the constituents.”

Marion currently uses a mixed system. The city is divided into specific geographical wards which council members live in and represent, but voting is open to the entire electorate where voters cast their ballots for all candidates.

Holliman said Marion is the only city in Crittenden County that uses a mixed system to elect its officials, and pointed out that it isn’t fair to let residents who live in other parts of the city choose who represents each ward.

“Why should someone from Ward 2 be allowed to vote for someone in Ward 3?” Holliman asked. “Marion is the only city that does that.”

On the alcohol measure, Holliman said Marion is considered to be dry, however some restaurants are already serving alcohol by the drink.

Arkansas Alcohol and Beverage Control Board regulations allow restaurants to serve alcohol by the drink as long as they apply for a private club permit. State ABC laws take precedence over local alcohol ordinances.

“Now it is considered a dry county,” Holliman said.

“But if you go to some of the restaurants you can buy alcohol by the drink. I’d just like to see constituents vote to do whatever we need to do to make it happen for us to be legal to sell alcohol.”

Councilman David Bigger agreed that the laws regulating alcohol are complex.

“It gets confusing,” Bigger said. “There is Jasper Township. So there is a township law.”

Mayor Frank Fogleman said he would have City Attorney James “Jimbo” Hale contact the state to see when the time frame is to pass an ordinance and will ask him to draft the ordinances.

“We’ll have Jimbo get some kind of feel for what you are proposing,” Fogleman


By Mark Randall