Our opinion: Thank you, city council

Published 10:18 am Friday, June 29, 2018

The Americus City Council, in a 4-2 vote last week, declined to approve an amendment to the alcohol beverage ordinance. The amendment would have changed the serving times for bars in the city from to 1:30 a.m. for last call and 2 a.m. for closure. The issue had been discussed at numerous meetings and was a call to action for many citizens who filled the meeting room at the Russell Thomas Jr. Public Safety Building for at least two sessions.
For the past two months, several citizens requested and were allowed to address the mayor and council on the matter. Sharad Patel, owner of the historic Windsor Hotel in downtown, shared video from his surveillance cameras on Jackson Street, showing public urination, loud talking and laughing, and cars zooming up and down the street at 2 a.m. on weekends. If a picture paints a thousand words, a video is even better to drive the message home.
At last week’s meeting, Council member Daryl Dowdell, who first brought up the idea of extending the hours, moved to amend the ordinance, which was seconded by Council member Nelson Brown. When the vote was called, Dowdell and Brown voted yes, and Council members Charles Christmas, Kelvin Pless, Lou Chase and Juanita Wilson voted no. The amendment failed.
We appreciate the four who voted against the change; however, we especially appreciate Pless and Wilson’s courage to vote their convictions instead of going along with the status quo. There have been too many 4-2 votes recently with Dowdell, Brown, Pless and Wilson voting together and Christmas and Chase voting together.
This vote demonstrates that the people can be heard, and their wishes can be reflected in the voting records of their city council representative. This vote shows that city leadership, working together, can accomplish much. This is democracy at work, and we are thankful that level heads prevailed in deciding this important issue which affects the health, safety and well-being of our community.