The mayors of Sandy Springs and Brookhaven have been selected to be part of a group that will elect board members to the new umbrella transit authority known as “The ATL.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul was selected Aug. 29 to help elect the District 3 board member. Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst was chosen Sept. 10 to help elect the representative for District 5.

A map shows the districts for “The ATL,” the new umbrella transit authority. Parts of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead and Brookhaven are all included in District 3, shown in yellow. District 5, in light purple near the bottom, includes south Buckhead and parts of Brookhaven. (Special)

“I’m excited about being part of the process that creates a truly regional transit system,” Paul said in a written statement. “It’s been decades in the making and will be decades more in achieving the ultimate goal, but this is an historic opportunity to play a role in expanding mobility and the continuing economic vitality of the metro region.”

“Transportation is a complex issue that affects the entire region,” Ernst said in a press release. “I am elated that the state of Georgia is addressing the issue holistically, and proud to play a role in The ATL’s direction and governance.”

The selection is the first step to elect a district board member in a complicated series of internal votes.

The ATL, or the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, is a new authority for 10 transit systems in 13 counties. It will have a regional governance board with 16 members serving four-year terms, who must be in place by Dec. 1.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

The ATL is tasked with coordinating existing and future transit service provided by MARTA, Xpress, CobbLinc, Gwinnett County Transit and others.
District 3 includes most of Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Dunwoody and part of Brookhaven, along with a large chunk of Cobb County. District 5 includes south Buckhead and the rest of Brookhaven, along with most of Atlanta.

Ernst and Paul were chosen in separate district mayoral caucuses. The caucuses included mayors from all the cities that are a part of the districts, even if only a small piece, including mayors of Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Doraville, Dunwoody, Marietta, Peachtree Corners, Sandy Springs, Smyrna and Tucker, among others, according to The ATL website.

Paul and Ernst will be part of groups that will elect one person to serve on The ATL board for District 3 and 5. Those groups will include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and state legislators and county commission chairs who represent any part of the districts.

Sandy Springs is also part of Districts 1 and 2.

Buford City Commission Chair Phillip Beard was selected as the District 2 representative Oct. 16, Haggard said. Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques was selected for District 1 on Aug. 22, he said.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

Paul has previously said that he would advocate for a board member to be from Sandy Springs or Dunwoody because those cities are central to transit in the Ga. 400 and I-285 corridors.

The board members must be residents of the district “who possesses significant experience or expertise in a field that would be beneficial to the accomplishment of the function and purpose of” the ATL, the legislation said.

State Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) said she has nominated a local transportation logistics expert to be the district’s ATL board member.

The elections are planned to be held in October or November, said Scott Haggard, The ATL’s director of government and external affairs.
Representatives will be similarly elected in the eight other districts. The full board will be joined by members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the state House of Representatives. The governor’s appointee will serve as the board chair.

For more information, see atltransit.ga.gov.

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