Dade County may seem to stay pretty much the same old place as the years fly by but one big change in the community's mindset became apparent tonight as the county voted overwhelmingly in favor of liquor by the drink.
In 1996, a similar ballot question was voted down 2106 no to 1676 yes. In this year's referendum, 3654 voters said yes to 2500 nos, or 59.38 percent in favor to 40.62 percent opposed.
"The demographics have changed," said District 3 Commissioner Robert Goff, one of only two elected officials present as the votes were counted Tuesday night. "You can't say it was the low turnout because we've probably had a record turnout. That's what a difference 20 years can make."
He said that when he and the other county commissioners first discussed putting the liquor question on the ballot at the beginning of the year, commission meetings were packed. But most people attending the meetings admitted they'd been in establishments where alcohol was served, and even those who got up to speak against liquor had no objection to the question being putting to a referendum. Goff said he wouldn't have been shocked either way the vote went.
As it turned out, it wasn't even a squeaker. Wets outvoted drys in each of the seven precincts, the closest being New Home at 143 for and 138 against. West Brow had the broadest margin for wets at 355 yes to 155 no.
Goff said that what was shocking was that there had been so little public opposition to the alcohol initiative, just a few signs around downtown Trenton that didn't show up until last week when early voting was almost over. "If they wanted to really fight it, that's the way to do it," he said. "Get out and put up signs, rent billboards."
Turnout was very good for Dade County. With 8588 registered voters this election, 6398 ballots were cast, or 74.50 percent. These numbers are still unofficial: "Provisional" votes--those cases in which an individual's right to vote at the poll is for some reason in question--and any missing military votes may alter the numbers some tiny fraction. Those few votes should be in by Monday.
In the presidential race, Dade went overwhelmingly to Republican Donald Trump, who got 5047 votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 965, which is 79.39 to 15.18 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson got 226 votes, or 3.56 percent. There were 119 write-in votes.
For U.S. Senate, J. Isakson (R) got 4446 votes, J. Barksdale (D) 880, A. Buckley (L) 347, and there were 14 write-ins. For Public Service Commissioner, T. Echols (R) got 4680 votes and E. Hoskins (L) 904, 11 write-ins.
There were no other contested races on this year's ballot. All Dade races were decided in the May primaries. Besides the aforementioned Robert Goff, Sheriff Ray Cross was the only other elected official present at the vote count. Neither looked particularly nervous as the precincts came in.
On the proposed state constitution amendments, Dade said no to Amendment 1,3348-2715. The amendment would have given the state permission to take over failing schools.
Dade voted 5103-828 in favor of Amendment 2, allowing the state to tax strip clubs as well as assess penalties against sex criminals and houses of ill repute to fund child victims' services.
The county said yes to Amendment 3, which allows the state legislature to reform the Judicial Qualifications Commission. That vote was 3630-1801.
And it also said yes to Amendment 4, allowing a tax on fireworks to pay for firefighting and trauma care, 4697-1175.