By Gerhard Schneibel

Doug MacGinnitie will run for Georgia secretary of state in 2010 instead of seeking re-election to his Dist. 1 City Council seat Nov. 3.

He will try to succeed fellow Republican Karen Handel, who has announced she will run for governor instead of a second term as secretary of state.

“I think given the economic times we’re in, we need to be doing everything we can to make Georgia an easy and efficient place to do business,” MacGinnitie said. “It’s about where I think I can add value and where I think I can help out the state.” A major part of the secretary of state’s job is regulating businesses.

Dist. 1 constituents said MacGinnitie is an approachable representative who has been reasonable in his decisions and an advocate of fiscal discipline.

Katherine Feeman, who represents Dist. 1 on the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, said MacGinnitie will be difficult to replace, but “I cheer his move on to bigger and better things.”

MacGinnitie has been successful in “adopting a stance between what development wants and what the neighborhoods want,” she said. “Doug was very clear: We have a land use plan — not perfect, but we have one — let’s adhere to that and we get rid of so much of the dialogue about how growth is supposed to happen. That was rational, easy to understand, and it cut out a lot of extraneous argument.”

Frank Farrell, a Dist. 1 resident who used to be on the Council of Neighborhoods, said, “People want to move up in the world.”

MacGinnitie “has been a very effective council member, and we’re going to be sorry to see him go,” Farrell said. “He’s always taken a position I agree with, and he’s looking after the neighborhoods and the best interest of the city. He’s a good public servant.”

Dist. 1 is known as Sandy Springs’ panhandle, and MacGinnitie’s decision means it will start the city’s fifth year with its third representative. He took office in November 2007 after the first Dist. 1 council member, David Greenspan, moved away.

Neither Feeman nor Farrell is concerned about the changing representation.

“Dist. 1 is very different because we have by far the least amount of businesses. We’re more of a bedroom community,” Feeman said.

Those interested in the Dist. 1 council seat must file their candidacy between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4 and pay $360.

MacGinnitie said his successor will face a challenge to maintain fiscal discipline. “That’s going to be true forever, regardless of who is on the council, but especially in the economic times we’re going through.”

Another challenge will be “trying to bring some transparency and predictability to our zoning,” he said. “I’ve very much enjoyed my time, and I hope that I’ve added some value.”