By Amy Wenk

The race for the Republican nomination for Georgia Senate District 56 now includes a long-time resident and civic leader. Sandy Springs City Attorney Wendell Willard recently announced his candidacy.

“I served in the House for 10 years, and I think that I can perhaps be more beneficial and useful for the entire community of north Fulton in my service on the Senate side,” said Wendell, who has served five terms as District 49 representative in the state House. “I am looking to be a stronger voice for our community in the General Assembly.”

If elected November 2010, the 68-year-old said he hopes to retain his position as Sandy Springs city attorney “as long as they will have my services I am enjoying.”

District 56 represents a good portion of north Fulton, including one-third of Sandy Springs. The southern boundary of the district is where Dalrymple Road crosses Roswell Road. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Dan Moody, who announced his retirement in April. Moody served four terms.

As a senator, Willard wants to influence the reapportionment of congressional districts that will occur in 2011 and 2012 with the new census data.

“I think I can be a strong voice for protecting our areas up in north Fulton and maybe trying to get us another full Senate seat up here,” said Willard, a native Atlantan who moved to Sandy Springs in 1986.

He also wants to push the formation of Milton County in the state Senate.

“I have helped form cities in north Fulton, now I want to help form the county for north Fulton,” said Willard, who helped draft the charter for Sandy Springs that served as a model for the incorporation of Milton and Johns Creek.

In addition, he wants to re-examine the taxation of businesses and individuals, especially if past exemptions are “good for economic purposes and not just benefitting the singular industry that has that right.”

Three others have announced their intentions to run for the District 56 Senate seat: Brandon Beach, president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Alpharetta City Councilman David Belle Isle, and Roswell civic leader John Albers.

Wendell expects to make a formal announcement of his candidacy April 1. Qualification for the seat will end later that month. Although the election will take place November 2010, a July primary should decide the race unless a runoff is needed 30 days later.