Sandy Springs City Council will look different next year. There will be at least a new Mayor and two new City Council members. Mayor Eva Galambos and Karen Meinzen McEnerny and Chip Collins will not run for re-election in November, and already several people have announced plans to run for office.
Tochie Blad, an active community volunteer, intends to run for the District 4 seat, currently held by Gabriel Sterling. “I don’t see it as running against Gabriel Sterling. I see it as running for the office,” she said.
Attorney Graham McDonald, who has lived in Sandy Springs for six years, said he is very invested in the city and wants to give back. McDonald is vice chairman on Sandy Springs’ Economic Development Advisory Committee and plans to run for Collins’ District 3 seat.
Below are the two potential candidates explain what inspired their decision to run for office.
“I fully expected Chip to run again,” McDonald said. “When I learned he was not going to, it was something that I seriously started considering. I have become very invested in Sandy Springs, raising a family with my wife, and owning a law firm in Sandy Springs. My wife and I moved here six years ago because of the amazing neighborhoods, which are the backbone of Sandy Springs.”
The appearance of Roswell Road, improving traffic, protecting quality of life in the neighborhoods, and adding more parks are among the issues McDonald says he is interested in.
Aging apartment complexes is an issue Graham has discussed on the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and continues to be a factor in Sandy Springs redevelopment.
Graham said, “The apartments certainly bring diversity, and diversity is a benefit. The challenge is finding the right balance in terms of aging apartment complexes, that can exist in the future. Safety is also a concern.”
Blad has served on the Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment and the Sandy Springs Conservancy board. She has been concerned about intrusive zonings.
“I really think now is a good time for me to step up from my volunteer role to an elected capacity,” she said. “I think I can be more effective. I think people need to take a look at some of these projects and weigh in on them.”
Blad is particularly concerned about approved zoning for the planned Northpark office development on Mount Vernon Highway.
“[Having] the largest building approved since the city became [incorporated] of 26 stories, I find that to be intrusive. Development is running in full force, not only in planning but actual building phases in District 4,” Blad told Patch.
Better fiscal responsibility is also an important issue for Blad. A press statement cited how a $14 million overage was spent during a Council meeting in May 2009 with no public input.
“We still see taxpayer funds being spent at the last minute. Budget appropriately and spend wisely or return the funds,” said Blad in the statement.