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Campaigns for Cumming City Council begin
One candidate drops out day after qualifying
city

CUMMING — With less than two months until the Nov. 3 election, candidates for three seats on the Cumming City Council are ready to start campaigning.

Eight political hopefuls have declared their intent to seek seats on the city’s governing body, with the election certain to result in two new members.

Post 3 incumbent Lewis Ledbetter will not face opposition for the seat he has held since 1971. But that’s not the case with Posts 4 and 5, where Councilmen Ralph Perry and John D. Pugh had previously said they would retire at year’s end when their terms expire.

Perry was first elected to the council in 1979 and Pugh in 1993. Both men cited health as a factor in their decisions.

The Post 5 contest will be a rematch of sorts between Linda Ledbetter and Julie Tressler.

The women ran unsuccessfully in the June special election to fill the unexpired Post 1 term of Rupert Sexton, who retired. Chuck Welch, a local banker, won the seat and took office in July.

Linda Ledbetter, a former Forsyth County commissioner, retired educator and first cousin of Lewis Ledbetter, said that she will have to work harder this time.

“I’m glad everybody didn’t qualify with me this time, we had like four the last time and that makes it harder, it really does,” she said.

“I’ve certainly got to go out there to work and get some votes, and I’m going to do that. I just hope that this time that I’m successful.”

Tressler, a real estate agent and small business owner, said she would like to protect the city and keep it financially strong.

“This is something that I’ve been hoping to do for a long time,” Tressler said. “Linda is a great lady, and she’s a good friend of mine, but I’m just going to get out there and talk to voters and see what happens. I feel good about it.”

In somewhat of a twist, Tressler ran for Linda Ledbetter’s District 5 commission post in 2008 when she didn’t seek a second term. Tressler fell by 30 votes to Jim Boff in the Republican primary runoff election.

The field for the Post 4 seat features Christopher Light, Guy McBrayer, Dana Sexton, Marcus “Jack” Shoemake and Avery Stone.

Light, an attorney with Lipscomb, Johnson, Sleister, Dailey & Smith in Cumming, is interested in expanding the city’s partnership with the University of North Georgia, but said he mainly wants to serve his town.

“Civil service is supposed to be just that, it’s supposed to be a service to the town, the community and the area,” he said.

“Me getting on the city council is one way I hope that I’ll be able to give back to the town that I love, that I grew up in and the people that I love and grew up with and to serve them in the best way that I know how.”

Stone, a small business owner, said he had always wanted to run, but not against an incumbent.

McBrayer could not be reached for comment.

Dana Sexton, wife of former Councilman Sexton, ran a small business for two decades. She said she wants the city to work for the people, not vice versa.

“I believe a little cleaning up needs to be done. The city needs to be returned to the people,” she said. “Honesty, integrity and transparency are what I believe in.”

Shoemake, a project manager with AT&T who served on the county commission from 1983-86, said he is interested in helping residents.

“I enjoy serving,” Shoemake said. “I enjoyed my stint as a county commissioner and I really want to serve the citizens of Cumming, having been one for many years.

“I want to make sure the current service levels, that are great by the way, are maintained.”

The Post 4 field thinned to five candidates from six at the close of qualifying Wednesday after John Crowe withdrew from the race.

According to city officials, Crowe made his decision Thursday based on a potential conflict of interest with his employer, Forsyth County government. Crowe is employed as a park ranger with the county.

As for Lewis Ledbetter, he said last month he wanted another term to help the city finish some projects.

“We’ve got a lot of things that we’re working on now … that I’d like to see through,” he said.

Potential city council candidates had to be registered to vote, at least 21 years old and have lived in Cumming for at least one year. The fee to qualify was $180.

Those qualifying had to declare which seat they were seeking, though balloting is citywide. Cumming has about 2,600 registered voters.

The deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 2. Advance voting for the election is scheduled to begin Oct. 12. Election Day is Nov. 3.