Next month Mayor Eva Galambos will step down as Sandy Springs first Mayor. The city was incorporated in 2005, an effort Galambos championed for decades. She recently answered questions posed by Reporter Newspapers about her time as mayor.
Q: You had a long career. What do you consider the high point?
A: I did research as an economic consultant in various areas. The two most significant are just as much on the front burner today as they were 25 years ago when I published on these subjects: (1) the need to attract better talent into the teaching profession and make sure teachers know the content they are to teach, and (2) the unbelievable administrative bloat in higher education that causes escalation of tuition and fees way in excess of the inflation rate.
Q: What accomplishments are you proudest of?
A: Other than my three wonderful children, the creation of our new city of Sandy Springs has given me more satisfaction than any other activity in which I was engaged.
Q: What has been your biggest disappointment?
A: I regret that during my two terms we have not succeeded in lowering the ridiculous 21 percent penalty per gallon on water that Sandy Springs users pay the Atlanta Watershed Department. The delay in addressing this serious inequity is a result of (1) the intransigence on the part of two Atlanta mayors to negotiate on this matter, and (2) the incredible hold-ups in federal courts. Our city attorney is ready to deal with this matter in State Court, and it is my great hope that we will gain equity in the coming months.
Q: Was the creation of the city of Sandy Springs worth the struggle?
YES!! Not only have the citizens of Sandy Springs gained a more attractive city, with better infrastructure and new parks, but they are also enjoying the pleasures of civic involvement. The enthusiasm of our residents in participating in our public life is palpable. The next milestone will be a public downtown area where our folks can live, shop and enjoy each other, deriving all the benefits of urban life at its best.
Q: What has surprised you the most about the city of Sandy Springs in its first eight years?
I have been pleasantly surprised by how much infrastructure the city has been able to install and afford on the same identical tax millage we paid before we became a city. Before cityhood, we lost the vast majority of our taxes for local services into the bowels of Fulton County. Now we have a 125-person police department (vs. 40 with Fulton), and we can afford new parks and other amenities.
Q: Did you imagine other cities would follow so quickly? Is regionalism dead in metro Atlanta?
A: I never dreamed beyond the creation of Sandy Springs. Once Dunwoody was borne, the pattern was clear. DeKalb County neglected its northern tier just as Fulton had neglected us. The fate is the same.
As for regionalism, I do not think it is dead. However, its main manifestation last year in the TSPOST debacle showed how it was wrong. It tried to impose a list of projects from the top down. True, there was a small group of elected local officials who traded projects among themselves. But it was a poor show of how a regional organization needs to involve the governments and elected officials who are closest to the people. This was another lesson that “central planning” does not work.
Q: What are your plans as you leave office?
A: It is time for my patient husband to have me at home more. I do plan to tutor Sandy Springs third graders in reading. Gov. Nathan Deal spoke recently in Sandy Springs and reminded us that workforce development is one of most important economic development tools, and workforce development is stymied if a third grader advances without full reading skills.