Sandy Springs swore in its City Council and its new mayor on Jan. 8, and things will definitely look different than they have in the last four years.
Eva Galambos, the city’s first mayor, is gone. Shortly after her successor Rusty Paul took the oath of office, the new mayor received the mayor’s ceremonial gavel. Galambos left through the side door as the meeting began.
There was some procedural stumbling. After the ceremony, Paul had to be reminded to leave his chair in the audience and sit where Galambos presided over meetings for the last eight years.
Paul was joined by other new members of the city council: Andy Bauman, Graham McDonald and Ken Dishman.
Paul said the election marks a turning point for the city, which incorporated in 2005.
“Sandy Springs is emerging from its childhood into adolescence,” Paul said in his inaugural address. “We can no longer accurately say we’re a new city. We’re maturing.”
The new mayor outlined his agenda for the next four years.
His four main objectives:
– Completing the city’s downtown revitalization project that will transform the area just north of the intersection of Roswell Road and I-285.
– Reshaping the city’s Roswell Road corridor to include a thriving business district.
– Protecting the city’s neighborhoods. He transitioned to his next objective by saying, “However protecting the neighborhoods and protecting the status quo are not synonymous.”
– Promoting affordable owner occupied and rental housing in the city to serve police officers, firefighters, nurses and other young professionals.
On that last point, Paul said, “It is immoral to ask public safety employees to lay their lives on the line for a community in which they can’t afford to live.”
Paul said he would try to live up to the standards set by his predecessor.
“She has set a standard that will be impossible to match,” Paul said. “So I’m not going to try to be Eva. But what I will strive for is what she, and I believe this new council and the citizens of Sandy Springs want: to strive for quality in all we do, maintain a record of integrity in all we attempt, think innovatively when confronted with challenges and settle for nothing less than the greatness that this city, this community, deserves.”
The new mayor presided over his first meeting with a few procedural gaffes, but he picked things up quickly. Then he said something that wasn’t in his speech, but signaled a departure from the previous administration.
Paul said he intends to introduce a resolution at a future City Council meeting to dissolve the city’s Design Review Board and merge its duties with the city’s Planning Commission. The Design Review Board is responsible for reviewing applications “for building and development based on their aesthetic, architectural and design merits with respect to the standards of the Sandy Springs Overlay District.”
Mayor Paul said having two boards is inefficient.
“The reason to do that is to streamline our processes and reduce the number of meetings citizens have to attend,” Paul said. “We’re not doing away with the function of the Design Review Board. We will shift it to the Planning and Zoning Commission.”