Every Cumming election since 1966 has included H. Ford Gravitt and 2013 won’t be any different.
The longtime mayor announced Tuesday night that he would seek another term at the helm of Forsyth County’s lone city.
Having served as mayor since 1970, and as a member of city council for four years prior to that, Gravitt declared his intention at the close of the council's monthly meeting.
He said he had received many cards and notes of support from city residents, who encouraged him to seek another four-year term.
“Over the past several weeks, I’ve had numerous, numerous cards and phone calls [saying] that they like the way the city is run,” Gravitt said. “They like the fact that we got North Georgia State University campus. One of the other things they like so well is that the city doesn’t have any city property tax.
“Over 35 years, the city hasn’t charged property owners any city taxes and they like that very much. They like the fact that we’re progressive, we try to get things done.”
After the meeting, the 71-year-old Gravitt said that while he had thought about retiring a few years back due to some health issues, this time around he had no such concerns.
“Last time, I had had throat surgery ... and colon surgery and I didn’t know how I’d feel,” he said. “My health is good now and I think I’m going to be all right and I want to hopefully make it through four more years.
“We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of us, but that’s what life’s all about.”
Gravitt has served as mayor for 14 consecutive terms, which have varied in length from two to five years due to changes in the municipal structure.
While Cumming has completed many large projects in recent years, Gravitt said he’s looking forward to working on some others if re-elected.
“We’ve got a lot of things that will be in the hamper that are still out there,” he said Wednesday morning after addressing a meeting of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office SALT program.
Among them, he said, are road improvements such as intersection upgrades where Hwy. 20 meets Kelly Mill Road and Tolbert Street, as well as a new road that would run from Bald Ridge Marina Road to Pilgrim Mill Road past the Bald Ridge Boys’ Lodge.
In addition, Gravitt is hoping for an expansion of the Cumming campus of the University of North Georgia, which opened in summer 2012.
Despite its newness, the campus is near capacity, with some 750 students enrolled for the current semester. That’s up from about 500 just last spring.
“I still got some contributions that I’d like to make to the city of Cumming,” he said.
So far, no other candidates have stepped forward to run against Gravitt. But that’s not unusual in Cumming.
Jeff Honea, city clerk, said Cumming hasn’t had a contested mayoral or council race since 2003, when Gravitt drew an opponent.
The last time all of the members of the governing body saw opposition was in 1990, Honea added.
Qualifying for the municipal election, which will be held Nov. 5 and also includes council posts 1 and 2, is set for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Aug. 30.
The fee for the mayor’s post is $360 and for council seats is $180.
All candidates must be at least 21 years old, have lived in Cumming for at least a year, and be registered to vote within the city.
Both Councilmen Rupert Sexton, post 1, and Quincy Holton, post 2, also plan to seek re-election this year.
“We want to try to keep our group together,” Gravitt said.
Holton was first elected to the city’s governing body in 1968, while Sexton has served as councilman for as long as Gravitt has been mayor, since 1970.
Gravitt, who spent a 44-year career in the automotive repair business, first at Andean Chevrolet and later owning his own shop, has three grown children and five grandchildren. His wife, Carolyn, passed away in 1998.