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Jason May declares campaign for Cumming City Council
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Jason May (center) talks with supporters at his campaign launch party to run for Cumming City Council on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. - photo by Brian Paglia

Jason May stood in the corner of the Community Cup coffee shop and faced a full house of anticipating stares.

“I’m not used to being on this side of things,” he said.

Indeed, May, a longtime resident who has been a behind-the-scenes presence in community affairs, signaled that he’s ready to take a more visible role, announcing his campaign to run for Cumming City Council to the group of supporters on Thursday.

May is the first candidate to enter the field for this November’s city elections, which features contests for Posts 3, 4 and 5 that are currently held by Lewis Ledbetter, Christopher Light and Linda Ledbetter, respectively. Qualifying is set for Aug. 19-21.

May, 44, has never before run for elected office, but he struck a passionate tone on Thursday about the need for “focused leadership” at what he called a “turning point” for Cumming.

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Longtime Cumming resident Jason May hosted a launch party for his campaign for Cumming City Council on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. - photo by Brian Paglia

“We want to create a business atmosphere that is tied together to the community on a local level,” May said. “It’s bringing issues to the table and having a conversation with everybody. If we can build that, then we can build a strong, unified city, and that city will grow this county.”

May first moved to Forsyth County when he was 12. He attended Forsyth Central High School, then Gainesville State College (now the University of North Georgia) and Southern Polytechnic State University (now Kennesaw State University) where he studied surveying, mapping and civil engineering.

May then set out on a career in real estate (he’s currently a broker with Powell Property Group), and it’s his background in both business and engineering that he feels will benefit the council as several new developments come to the community.

“I think, most of the time, very few of our community elected officials were civil engineers or planners that looked at these things and said, ‘Why are we here? What are we doing?’” May said.

May might be a political newcomer, but he’s been involved in conservative politics since high school. He got plugged into the Republican Party, eventually helping candidates organize campaigns as a precinct chair for several years. May then found more and more ways to get involved in the community; he’s a member of the Cumming Civitan Club and Rotary Club of Lanier Forsyth, and he also sits on the board of Family Haven and the Committee for Affordable Housing with Family Promise. He recently served on the city’s comprehensive plan steering committee.

Back in high school, May remembers talking with friends about one day affecting the local community through elected office. That vision reached an urgency as he saw surrounding cities develop communities that attracted younger generations with a diverse offering of retail and residential spaces, while Cumming did not.

“The only weak points that I found in our leadership is my generation graduated and started coming back home, and it was the same town that I grew up in 25 years later,” May said.

That’s starting to change, May said. He points to new initiatives implemented in 2018 by Mayor Troy Brumbalow during his first year in office, such as the increased number of summer events at the Cumming Fairgrounds and the announcement of a new city center.

“You have to have a mixture,” May said, “and it’s the mixture that develops your community.”