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Interim member appointed to Cumming City Council
Sorrells appointed to fill in; Tressler announces candidacy for June 16 special election
sorrells doug
Sorrells

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* Cumming to hold special election on June 16.

* Sexton resigns from Cumming City Council.

CUMMING — The Cumming City Council has appointed an interim member to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Rupert Sexton until a special election next month to choose a permanent successor.

In a called meeting Friday, the council named Doug Sorrells, former longtime clerk of courts in Forsyth County, to the Post 1 seat.

Sorrells, who said he has no interest in running for the office, will serve through the June 16 special election. He is the first new face on the council since the early 1990s.

Sexton, who had held the post since 1971, announced on April 21 that he would be stepping down to enjoy retirement. His last day with the city was April 30.

And in a related development, the special election drew its first candidate with real estate agent and business owner Julie Tressler’s announcement that she would be running.

Reached after the meeting Friday, Sorrells said Mayor H. Ford Gravitt approached him about the opportunity.

“I told him it would be an honor to fill in,” Sorrells said. “… It’s not political to me. I’m not planning on running for that position, but I’ll be glad to help if I can.

“It’ll just be for a couple of months. I think I’ll enjoy doing it. ”

Sorrells served as Forsyth County’s clerk of courts from 1996-2008, when he chose not to seek re-election. He then served as the local Republican Party representative on the county’s elections board from June 2010 until February, when he resigned due to health concerns.

Gravitt said he wanted to select someone who was not planning to run for the office to ensure there would not be a clear frontrunner for the election.

“One of the criteria … was that the person that would be appointed would not run for the unexpired term, so that the appointee would not have a leg up on the other people who might want to enter into the race,” Gravitt said.

The mayor went on to say that he had spoken with several people about the interim position, but felt that Sorrell’s experience in government was ideal.

“[I] went into the process of appointing a person who is a city resident, obviously, and a city voter and who we felt that was certainly beyond approach,” Gravitt said. “He had been in government and retired out of government and … I felt like he would be a good choice and that was my recommendation.”

Though Sorrells is the interim pick, the election cycle is under way, with Tressler the first entrant.

Tressler is a 15-year resident of the city and mother of two. Her son is a Forsyth Central High alumnus and her daughter will graduate from there later this month.

Tressler ran for the District 5 post on the Forsyth County commission in 2008, falling by 30 votes to Jim Boff in the Republican primary runoff election.

She has since remained active in local politics, including serving as president of the Republican Women of Forsyth County.

“It’s something I’ve been keeping an eye on for a long time,” she said. “Obviously, there is going to be a next generation of leaders in the city and I’m concerned about who that’s going to be and preserving the legacy that the city has built.”

Running as a Republican, Tressler said fiscal issues are among her top priorities.

“Preserving the fiscal responsibility in the city is a big issue for me,” Tressler said. “They’ve been really good about that. They’re the only municipality in the state of Georgia that doesn’t owe any money and I’d sure like to see it stay that way.”

If elected, Tressler said she would work to improve the city.

“There are always things that we can do better,” she said. “I think the city of Cumming needs to catch up with the rest of the county and become all the things that it can be. I’d like to see the downtown area revitalized and make it more of a destination. I’d like to preserve the water system.”

As of Friday, Tressler was the lone candidate to announce her intention to run.

Potential candidates must be registered to vote, at least 21 years old and have lived in the Cumming city limits for at least one year. The fee for qualifying, which is set for May 12-14, is $180.

Tressler is preparing for a speedy election cycle.

“This is going to be a pretty short campaign, but I’m up for it and I’m looking forward to the race and hopefully getting the job,” she said.