By Patrick Fox and Dan Whisenhunt
There will be new faces when the next City Council takes office in January. And for the first time in the city’s short history, there will also be no women holding elected office in the city.
In the meantime, voters must decide who will fill the District 6 seat being vacated by Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny. No candidate in the race received more than half the votes, so the top two finishers — Andy Bauman and John Stoj – meet in a runoff election Dec. 3.
Sandy Springs’ voters cleared a wide path for businessman Rusty Paul to lead the city for the next four years. Paul, a former City Council member, collected 81 percent of the votes on Nov. 5 to become the young city’s second mayor. He will take over from iconic founder Eva Galambos, who endorsed Paul.
Paul was swept to the post with an overwhelming majority, defeating local businessman Bob Brown, 6,311 to 1,462.
The first order of business, Paul said, will be to get reacquainted with the new City Council and with city staff.
In District 2, Ken Dishman defeated incumbent Dianne Fries, 639 to 381.
Dishman said he plans to work closely with the new mayor to continue building Sandy Springs into a shining example of self-governance. Dishman thanked Fries for her leadership and service on the council.
Fries said she was disappointed that barely 1,000 votes were cast in the race, adding that she planned to stay involved in city issues.
In District 3, Graham McDonald won the seat vacated by Chip Collins. Gabriel Sterling easily held off a challenge from Tochie Blad, winning two-thirds of the votes cast.
Tibby DeJulio, the only City Council member connected to the city’s first council elected in 2005, won reelection to his District 5 seat, capturing 75 percent of the vote.
DeJulio said he’s looking forward to working closely with the new mayor.
“Rusty worked with Eva and I for several years before the city was born, so he’s got a great working knowledge of the city,” DeJulio said.
About 100 Paul supporters who gathered at J Christopher’s Tuesday night were equally enthusiastic.
Trisha Thompson, who serves on the board of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, said Paul will be a perfect successor to the groundwork laid by Galambos.
“This is a jumping-off point from what Eva has built, an organization of financial stability,” she said. “It will bring a new look for the city, a new vibrancy.”
Local businessman Bijan Kasraie agreed.
“He will bring Sandy Springs from the little town it was to a progressive city,” he said. “Just ticking along is not his style.”
Paul said the $100 million City Center Project will be his main focus as mayor.
“We’ve got a major investment decision we’ve got to make,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we do it right.”
The project, which calls for giving a new face to a traffic-congested Roswell Road, will include walkable streetscapes, a government complex and park space.
“I want this area that we’re standing in right now not only to be the heart of Sandy Springs, but it needs to become the heartbeat.”
Local political observer Bill Gannon, a supporter of DeJulio, said he’s hopeful the new council members will work together to lead the city.
“We’re going to have some changes in the council districts and I’m glad everyone could offer their opinions,” Gannon said. “ … I hope (the new council members will) do a good job working with the returning council members.”