PF candidates: Feelings on liquor by the drink split

Apr. 22, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

The city’s recent liquor referendum caused a split between Pigeon Forge residents who either supported or opposed liquor by the drink.

The Mountain Press asked the City Commission candidates whether they are concerned about what happened with the liquor referendum and how to heal any perceived split. The following is a summary of the candidates’ responses, listed in alphabetical order by last name:

Joyce Brackins

Brackins, one of three incumbents, said she would only be concerned with liquor by the drink passing in Pigeon Forge if it weren’t anywhere else in Sevier County.

“Since it’s in our sister cities I’m not totally concerned with it,” Brackins said.

Brackins also said she’s in favor of the tax benefits the schools will receive from liquor sales, “as well as the additional revenue the city will bring in from the businesses.”

Jess Davis

Davis said he’s concerned about how the early referendum came about, after it had been voted down twice.

In a prepared response to a Pigeon Forge Hospitality questionnaire given to each candidate, Davis asked, “... why did our commission request the state legislatures to change the law and allow an early referendum after the citizens had clearly said ‘no’ twice before and after these commissioners had publicly stated that they had no control or influence over the state?”

Don Denney

Denney said he was happy the issue has been resolved, but he’s concerned that it still defines Pigeon Forge.

“We’re better than that,” Denney said. “It’s not who we are. As long as we have sides and divisions, we can’t come together in unity.”

Denney would like to see established and enforced guidelines regarding liquor by the drink.

“We need to determine what our goals and resources are, and we need to collectively use our diversities to address any conflict that there might be and resolve it,” he said. “And then move on and not dwell on it.”

Kevin McClure

McClure said he’s happy the issue has been put to rest by the voters, rather than the commissioners.

“It’s an individual’s choice and the people spoke,” he said.

McClure believes time will heal whatever bad feelings the referendum has inspired.

“I’ve got friends on both sides and people were very passionate about it whether for or against,” McClure said. “It will take a healing process, and as a commissioner you have to represent everyone, whether you’re for or against.”

Jay Ogle

Ogle said he, too, was glad such a divisive issue was handled by referendum “so citizens could decide the outcome.”

“It was a personal decision for most voters, but I’m glad it’s resolved and I hope we can move forward as a city,” he said.

Ogle said the commissioners should be open to everyone’s concerns and remain positive.

“Most people here want to work toward the common good, which is the betterment of Pigeon Forge,” Ogle said.

Randal Robinson

Robinson said he’s not concerned with the outcome of the referendum, but he is concerned that there is a lack of legislation to regulate it.

“I’m concerned with the fact that we don’t have zoning to control the different bars, like how close the distance between establishments are,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he’s also not concerned with chain restaurants. “I’m more concerned with places that are concentrating less on food and more on liquor, like gentlemen’s clubs,” he said.

As far as any wounds that need to be healed, Robinson believes the referendum is accepted among the people.

“We’ll move forward, but we need to control it,” he said.

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rhargett@themountainpress.com