Kevin Abel, the Sandy Springs resident who made an unsuccessful Congressional run last year, is seeking election to the State Transportation Board in a vote legislators will hold March 6.
“I’m interested in serving the community and being involved in policy,” said Abel, who ran for the 6th Congressional District seat eventually won by fellow Democrat Lucy McBath.
The Transportation Board oversees the Georgia Department of Transportation. The seat Abel seeks to fill also represents the 6th District area, which includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and areas of Cobb and north Fulton counties.
The current holder of the seat is Mark Burkhalter, a former Georgia House Speaker and a Johns Creek resident, whose five-year term expires April 15. Burkhalter now works at the large law firm Dentons and said in email that “I am not running” to retain the seat after taking a new company position in London.
It is unclear whether there are any other candidates for the seat. A caucus of state legislators from within the 6th District is scheduled to vote to fill the seat on the morning of March 6. Abel said he learned of the opportunity to be elected to the seat from state Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), whom he called a “friend.”
The Transportation Board vacancy comes at a time of major GDOT projects in the 6th District, including an ongoing reconstruction of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange, a controversial plan to add toll lanes along those highways with some property takings, and a unique partnership with MARTA in adding bus service to Ga. 400. Abel declined to comment on such issues. He said that, like most residents, he’s familiar with area traffic, joking, “I spent most of my life on Ga. 400.”
As for another run for Congress, Abel said, “I never say never,” but added, “I’m not running in 2020 for sure.”
Abel is the founder of a software company that he is no longer involved with and says he is “just exploring options right now” for other business opportunities. He also continues to serve on the board of New American Pathways, a refugee resettlement nonprofit based in Tucker.