HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Local State House challenger Mickey Cummings made an appearance at Sundance Grill Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Mountain Movers & Shakers forum. While Cummings never mentioned his opponent, Representative Matt Gurtler, by name, insinuation was apparent.
“I believe that public embarrassment and hostility toward our leaders is the wrong approach. Sooner or later, we’re going to need those people to help us to solve our issues and our problems,” Cummings professed. “I don’t believe we should ever burn a bridge unless we absolutely have to.”
Matt Gurtler was elected to the Georgia State House in 2016, and throughout his first-term while representing District 8 – which includes Towns, Union, Rabun, and portions of White County – Gurtler maintained a reputation of boldly challenging the status quo in the minds of his supporters.
The self-professed, ultra-conservative incumbent – a steadfast proponent of limited government, and a stickler for what he considers responsible spending – has proven to be a thorn in the side of leadership, voting against the State House at a rate of 39 percent.
Cummings, who currently holds office as Chairman of Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC), believes other avenues of negotiation should be explored “before you drop the bomb.”
Candidate Cummings briefly described his method of approach, using a conflict between BRMEMC and another unnamed electric co-op as an example: “We talked about it, and talked about it, and nothing ever happened. We called out the gentleman publicly, and we got what we wanted.”
In addition, Chairman Cummings spoke of the success of BRMEMC, stating that equity has increased by 3 percent since serving on the Board of Directors, at a spike of 1 percent per year.
“That’s unheard of in the electric co-op business to do that much,” said Cummings.
“Our Board has also improved transparency by opening board meetings to our membership. We’ve also become more responsive to our members and their needs,” Cummings stated.
FetchYourNews (FYN) attended the initial BRMEMC session, held Nov. 6, 2017, and reported the requirements for public attendance.
“I’m not a politician. I never planned to be,” Cummings said. “I believe the office should seek the candidate, and with people across the district asking me to run, to provide the leadership they deserve, I felt called to do so.”
Cummings spent 33 years as a county agent, 26 of which were spent in the mountains “working with farmers and saving the lives of youth through 4-H.”
“I’ve also helped to develop our farmer’s market that has helped to revive our vegetable industry, not only in Union County, but in Towns County as well. In 1990, we had roughly 30-to-35 growers in our county, growing specific vegetables,” Cummings explained. “By 2000, that number had decreased to five. Because of this decline was the death of older farmers, and their heirs found out that they could sell their property, develop the land, and make much more money than they could in farming.”
The creation of the Union County Farmers Market has allowed growers to profit locally, rather than venturing elsewhere to sell the fruits of their labor.
Along with continued support of agriculture, Cummings listed the establishment of widespread rural broadband internet access as a top issue he hopes to tackle if elected to represent District 8.
When the candidate was asked his position on the Second Amendment by a voter, Cummings divulged that he supports the right to bear arms, noting a history of gunsmiths in his ancestral lineage.
Incumbent Matt Gurtler is scheduled to address the Mountain Movers & Shakers in Hiawassee Friday, May 4.
Early voting begins Monday, April 30, with the primary election taking place May 22, 2018.
Count on FYN for continued coverage of District 8 State House race as the election approaches.
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