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Alcohol Supporters Prevail in Local Option Election

October 5, 1988

CARROLLTON, Ky. (AP) _ The vote approving continued sales of alcohol here was a reaction against pressure from ″drys″ after a bus crash blamed on drunken driving killed 27 people, most of them children, a ″wet″ says.

″This vote is a statement that we’re happy with the community we live in,″ Chuck Webster, leader of Citizens for the Legal Sale of Alcohol, said after the referendum Tuesday in northern Kentucky’s Carroll County and this county seat.

In Carrollton, 1,211 voted to continue liquor sales; 450 voted to ban them. Countywide, 1,173 voted for the status quo, and 750 voted against it.

″I’m sorry we didn’t win, but we gave the people the opportunity to say what they wanted,″ said Trudy Mahoney, a spokeswoman for the anti-alcohol Citizens for a Better Life.

The referendum was prompted by the fiery May 14 crash of a church bus and a pickup truck, which killed 24 children. The pickup truck driver, Larry Mahoney, has been charged with murder, drunken driving and other counts.

″A lot of people took it personally,″ Webster said of the accident. ″They felt by voting no, it would be accepting some responsibility for the bus crash.

″The man driving the truck was not even from Carroll County. We would have been having to take that rap for him and we weren’t ready to do that.″

About 59 percent of those eligible to vote cast ballots, surpassing the turnout for most presidential elections, said County Clerk John Tilley.

″The voter turnout really pleased me,″ Webster said. ″I’ve said all along the greater the turnout, the greater the margin of victory (for us) will be.″

Debbie Roeder, a member of Citizens for a Better Life, said earlier Tuesday that the referendum had been desired for many years.

″The bus crash probably did prompt people into action, whereas before they thought, ’What’s the sense?‴ she said.

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