City of Cumming Mayor and Council — biographies

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Nydia Tisdale
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Aging Cumming incumbents running unopposed — again

Post by Nydia Tisdale » January 14th, 2015, 3:45 pm

Aging Cumming incumbents running unopposed — again

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Haley Castillo
November 1, 2013

If you live in Cumming, you don’t have to worry about voting in an election next week, because there isn’t one. The city, as a matter of fact, hasn’t held a municipal election for 10 years. Why? Because Tuesday will mark yet another election year in which Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt and the city council will run unopposed.

Gravitt was a councilman before being elected mayor in 1970. At age 22, he was the youngest person in the United States to be elected to a city council. Now Georgia’s longest-serving mayor, Gravitt is about to serve his 42nd year in office. The city’s five councilmen have maintained their seats nearly as long, with the newest member serving his 21st year. Combined, Cumming’s city fathers have served a total of 229 years.

The last time anyone in Cumming had the temerity to challenge the incumbents was in 2003, when Gravitt drew competitor William P. Daniel. Out of 304 votes, Gravitt won with a nail-biting 289 to 15.

“His basic complaint was that he thought I’d been there long enough and he thought I needed some opposition,” Gravitt said. “He didn’t know that he could do anything different and well, I got elected, obviously.”

So why have Cumming residents allowed the same group of aging white men to run their city for so long, even as it changed dramatically? The population, for instance, has more than doubled, to more than 5,000, since Gravitt took office.

Perhaps it’s because the city offers amenities such as its shiny, new Aquatic Center or the popular Cumming Fairgrounds. Or maybe it’s because Cumming is the only city in Georgia without property taxes, relying for its revenue on local option sales taxes and license taxes.

Mayor Gravitt simply thinks the people of Cumming are happy.

“I think being satisfied and content with the city of Cumming’s progressive type government that we’ve led over the last century has made people feel comfortable that we have the continuity and government that most governments don’t have,” Gravitt said.

His four-decade term is second only to former mayor of Brooklyn, Ohio, John Coyne, who served 52 years before losing an election in 1999. William B. Hartsfield, Atlanta’s longest-serving mayor, had a short tenure in comparison, just 23 years.

Gravitt, at age 71, is actually the city’s youngest elected official. The whippersnapper runs a council of elders who have each served for decades. Councilmen Lewis Ledbetter and Rupert Sexton were elected the year Gravitt became mayor. Councilman Quincy Holton was elected in 1968 and is only two years shy of matching Gravitt’s 46-year stretch. The council newbies are Ralph Perry, 34 years, and John D. Pugh, 21 years, the only ones with less than 40 years under their belts.

Although the elected officials may feel safe in their positions and comfortable in the way they run the city, Gravitt has found that he can’t please everybody, as an incident that put the Forsyth County seat in the news last year showed.

In April 2012, Mayor Gravitt and his colleagues were settling inside City Hall for their monthly council meeting. This particular Tuesday, Nydia Tisdale, who describes herself as a Forsyth County watchdog, was setting up her video camera to record the meeting. The camera sat atop a tripod standing in the aisle, aimed directly at Gravitt and his council.

“First of all, a little housecleaning,” the video recorded the mayor saying. “Chief Tatum if you would, please remove the camera from the auditorium. We don’t allow filming inside city hall here unless there’s a specific reason.”

Before being escorted out by Chief of Police Casey Tatum, Tisdale tried to explain that she had a right to record the meeting, but Gravitt dismissed her by a wave of his hand and a simple but effective, “it’s not up for discussion.” The mayor’s point of view conflicts with Georgia’s revised Open Meetings Act, which was signed into effect by Gov. Nathan Deal, ironically, the day the mayor’s rift with Tisdale occured.

The video, which can be viewed on YouTube, prompted two lawsuits against the mayor, claiming he infringed upon Tisdale’s right to record a public meeting.

Those allegations haven’t scared off the city heads, all of whom are running again, as usual, unopposed.

“She tried to get me opposition,” Gravitt said. “With all the press and all the encouragement from the activists we have, they couldn’t get anybody to run against us.”

Cumming residents like Tommy Carlisle are also unfazed.

“People are always going to find something to have problems about,” Carlisle said. “Everything is run just fine, and even though I don’t know [the mayor] personally, I’m happy with him. The way I see it, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Mayor Gravitt agrees, and he doesn’t plan on losing his seat to anybody but himself.

“I want to be mayor as long as I’m effective.” Gravitt said. “I want to go out on my terms.”

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Nydia Tisdale
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City of Cumming municipal election

Post by Nydia Tisdale » January 14th, 2015, 4:00 pm

City of Cumming Elections Near Qualifying.
Will There be Competition in 2013?


CummingHome.com
By Brad Wilkins
August 20, 2013

According to a public notice recently placed in the Forsyth County News, “The City of Cumming municipal election will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.”

The City of Cumming has two council members up for election as well as the Mayor. According to the same notice, “Any person interested in seeking the office of council member or mayor must pay a filing fee of $360 for the office of mayor or $180 for the office of council member. The deadline for candidates is fast approaching. The notice of candidacy must be filed with the Office of the City Clerk, between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. starting Monday, August 26, 2013 and ending Friday, August 30, 2013.”

Qualifications for any citizen interested in serving in the capacity of council member or mayor include:
  • • Candidate must be at least twenty-one years of age;
    • Resident of the City of Cumming for one year preceding the date of election;
    • Qualified voter of the City of Cumming.
Mayor Ford Gravitt took office in 1971, and he has served 42 uninterrupted years in office. The City of Cumming has a population of 5,530 residents as of the 2010 census. The city which is only 5.9 square miles in size is the county seat of Forsyth County and is home to the Fair Grounds, Aquatic Center and important retail hubs such as Commerce Drive. As of 2013, the City has a budget of $24,675,900. The residents of Cumming do not pay property taxes.

Former Forsyth County Commissioner David Richard had a unique perspective on Mayor Ford Gravitt’s tenure. When asked what would be the best reason for anyone to run against a Mayor who has been in office for 42 years, Mr. Richard said, “From the City’s perspective, there is nobody better to represent the City of Cumming than Ford Gravitt. From a county perspective, they need someone who is less determined to get Forsyth County resources that are not owed to the City.” David Richard continued, “His job has been to get from the county more than is owed to the City and he has been very effective at doing that.” “He has gotten enormous amounts of money through LOST, SPLOST and Water Negotiations.”

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Nydia Tisdale
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Got training?

Post by Nydia Tisdale » January 29th, 2015, 11:00 am

TITLE 36. LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS ONLY
CHAPTER 45. MUNICIPAL TRAINING
ARTICLE 1. IN GENERAL

O.C.G.A. § 36-45-4 (2014)

§ 36-45-4. Training of elected members of municipal governing authority


(a) All persons elected as members of a municipal governing authority who were not serving as members of a municipal governing authority on July 1, 1990, shall enroll in, attend, and satisfactorily complete a course of training and education on matters pertaining to the administration and operations of municipal governments. Such course of training and education shall include, but not be limited to, orientation in local government finance and budgeting; methods of taxation; planning; public works and utilities; parks and recreation; environmental management; public safety; personnel management; responsiveness to the community; the ethics, duties, and responsibilities of members of a municipal governing authority or a chief executive officer; and such other matters as may be deemed necessary and appropriate by the Vinson Institute.

(b) All expenses incurred by a newly elected member of a municipal governing authority related to the course of training and education authorized and required by subsection (a) of this Code section, including the reasonable costs of housing, travel, and meals, shall be paid from public funds appropriated for such purposes. All expenses not paid for by state funds shall be paid from municipal funds by the municipal governing authority whose newly elected member or members shall attend such course.


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Nydia Tisdale
Posts: 5945
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 12:00 pm
Location: Roswell, GA
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AJC: Cumming’s incumbents go on — and on

Post by Nydia Tisdale » October 23rd, 2017, 8:39 pm

Cumming’s incumbents go on — and on

Even though the city has changed, elected officials stay the same.



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