Qualifying for the upcoming election cycle doesn’t open until March 6, but two people have already made public their intent to run for the seat to be vacated by current Georgia’s 9th District House of Representatives.
Local attorneys Zack Tumlin and Steven Leibel threw their hats in the ring to replace Rep. Kevin Tanner. Tanner will be seeking to unseat Kelly Loeffler, Gov. Brian Kemp’s replacement for Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
A third possible candidate, Dawson County banker and school board member Will Wade, is considering making a run for the State House vacancy. He had made no formal announcement at press-time.
“For these political dominos to fall into place … I’m excited,” said Tumlin. “I believe this is my time, … I’m built for this.”
Tumlin grew up 10 miles south of the Lumpkin County line in Dawson County. A political science graduate of what is now the University of North Georgia (UNG), he holds law degrees from Mississippi College and the University of Georgia (UGA). He established Tumlin Law Group, and currently practices law in northeast Georgia.
Politics have been an important part of Tumlin’s life since his college days. After completing an internship in Washington, D.C. for former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, he returned to the UNG to serve as Vice President of the College Republicans. At UGA Tumlin represented the law school as a Senator in the university-wide Student Government Association.
When Tumlin returned home from the university his one goal was to run for the 9th District House seat.
“When I returned home from Athens I researched the incumbent and came to appreciate Rep. Kevin Tanner,” he said. “My wife and I talked it over and decided not to run against him. We felt well represented. The result has been I have been waiting to run in an open election for his seat for nearly a decade. I never wanted to run for city council or the county commission. I want to represent the people of Lumpkin and Dawson under the Gold Dome. I’ve been patiently waiting for the opportunity.”
While waiting, Tumlin has not been idle, however. He is an active participant in local community affairs. He currently serves as the Governmental Affairs Chairman for the Dahlonega/Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, where he is a member of the Board of Directors.
Tumlin is a graduate of both Leadership Lumpkin and Leadership Dawson, and was part of the inaugural class of the Zell Miller Institute for better public policy.
He is also an active partner in education for the Lumpkin County School System.
He and his wife, Lauren are members of Dahlonega First United Methodist Church and parents of two daughters, three-year-old Tally Kate and one-month-old Vera Haynes.
“We are both life-long conservatives, and I look forward to representing those values for the people of Lumpkin, Dawson and northern Forsyth counties,” he said.
Tumlin encouraged any one interested to visit his Facebook page Zack Tumlin for Georgia and his soon to be online website, zacktumlinforgeorgia.com.
Steven Leibel has been involved in the Dahlonega community before and after he moved his home to Lumpkin county with his wife Julie. Leibel said that he is excited to run for the State House to follow in Rep Kevin Tanner’s footsteps in providing service to the Lumpkin, Dawson, and North Forsyth community.
“I really just want to help people,” he said. “I believe I have the qualifications and compassion to serve our community, that I can make a difference. And I am a person the voters can trust. When I tell you I’m going to do something, I will do my best to accomplish it.”
Leibel, a graduate of the Floyd County Community College Regional Police Academy, and the Emory law school has been a been a certified police officer since 1986. He is a successful lawyer, business owner, and advocate for people in North Georgia. He recalls when he invited the Georgia Supreme Court to Dahlonega .
”They heard two cases in the historic courthouse, and gold museum. People lined up around the square to watch the proceedings,” he said. “I am especially proud that I spearheaded a privately funded event so that no taxpayer money was used. The members of the Court still talk about it.”
Leibel served on the board of Legacy Link, a non-profit which is in charge of the senior centers and the Meals on Wheels programs. He was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue to serve on the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission.
Leibel will be rolling out his website soon, he said.
“I want to earn the votes of every voter and want to hear from each member of the District on the issues of importance.”
Meanwhile Wade said he plans to make an announcements soon.
“I am very, very excited about the number of friends, colleagues and customers that have called and encouraged me to run for House District 9. I’ve spent my entire life living and working in the Lumpkin/Dawson/Forsyth area. It would be an honor to serve my friends and neighbors by serving in that capacity,” Wade said. “I will be making a decision very soon and do appreciate all the prayers and counsel offered up by so very many people across the district.”
Wade said he is “excited for Tanner in the next chapter of his public service as he embarks on his journey to fill Congressman Collins’ seat. I think all the candidates need to recognize the fantastic job he’s done while serving this District. He leaves some big shoes to fill.”