MONMOUTH -- Cheers!
Residents of Monmouth said "yes" last week to ending a prohibition on the sale of hard alcohol within the city limits.
"I'm on cloud nine," said Ray Stratton, owner of Main Street Pub & Eatery. Stratton was the most vocal supporter in the "Martinis for Monmouth" political action group, which proposed the successful Measure 27-101.
"We're excited to bring the people of Monmouth what they want," he said.
Nearly 56 percent of voters on May 18 -- or 919 -- favored repealing the city's ban, compared to 44 percent -- or 724 -- who said "no."
The new law will take effect 30 days from the passage of the measure -- or June 17, said Lane Shetterly, city attorney.
There are no future steps needed from Monmouth's standpoint, as the measure was written in a way that automatically repeals the liquor ban in the existing city code, Shetterly said.
Businesses must apply for licenses with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The vote more or less closes the chapter on Monmouth's nearly 150-year dry legacy. Mayor John Oberst led a partial repeal on the alcohol law in 2002. That allowed for beer and wine sales.
Proponents had said the liquor ban was archaic, as no other municipalities in Oregon have similar restrictions, and that it made it tougher to lure restaurants here when they don't have the option of selling cocktails or offering a full bar.
"It opens the door to a sector of our economy that has been fighting competition in other cities with one arm tied behind its back," Oberst said.
"Martinis for Monmouth" did little advertising for the proposal, which only made the ballot with a last-ditch effort to gather petition signatures. Then again, there was virtually no vocal opposition.
In the end, the measure passed at a slightly lower percentage than the 2002 initiative to allow beer sales -- 58 percent for it, and 42 percent against.
Stratton had previously said that being able to operate a full bar was integral to his pub's future in Monmouth; as such, he was nervous about the outcome during election night.
"I wasn't sure what our next step would be if it hadn't passed," he said.
Following OLCC licensing and training for his staff, he hopes to begin serving cocktails by late June or early July.
"Obviously, I hope I'm first," Stratton said of being able to pour the city's inaugural drink. "I did a lot of groundwork on this.
"But if somebody gets in their paperwork first, I understand."
Monmouth Repeal on Hard Alcohol
Yes 919 55.93%
No 724 44.07%