The only mayor Sandy Springs has known plans on stepping down.
Eva Galambos, who advocated for the creation of a city of Sandy Springs for decades and then was elected its first mayor, announced during a press conference at Morgan Falls Overlook Park on April 22 that she intended to retire.
“I’m going to be 85 years old in July,” Galambos said. “I believe in going out when you’re at the top of your game.”
Days after she announced her plan to retire, Galambos went on leave and turned over her duties to Mayor Pro Tem Tibby DeJulio, city officials announced. Galambos underwent abdominal surgery and took the time off to recover, city officials said in a brief press release April 30. “Doctors expect a full recovery,” the city said in the release.
Galambos is winding down her second four-year term as mayor of a city she fought long and hard to bring into being. She led Sandy Springs cityhood groups through a quarter-century-plus campaign, lobbying friendly and unfriendly legislators alike until a Republican sweep of state politics brought in lawmakers friendlier to the notion of starting a new city.
“Without her perseverance, tenacity and dedication there would be no city of Sandy Springs,” said former state legislator and City Councilman Rusty Paul, who announced plans to run to succeed Galambos at the same event at which she announced her plans to retire.
Other long-time Sandy Springs residents agreed Galambos’ work was critical to the creation and start-up of the new city.
“She is Sandy Springs,” said Oliver Porter, who worked with Galambos to establish the new city. “She’s enormously important. It’s not that we will not be able to go on and prosper without her after she leaves, but she will be missed.”
Porter called Galambos “the bulldog that made the city happen” and said he once told her she should title her memoir “Bulldog In Lace.”
Galambos’ work lobbying for and then starting Sandy Springs helped redraw the political landscape of the Atlanta suburbs.
Since 2005, when Sandy Springs’ advocates broke the political logjam stopping the creation of new cities, residents in six other communities in the Atlanta suburbs, including Dunwoody and Brookhaven, have voted to turn their communities into municipalities.
Wendell Willard, Sandy Springs’ city attorney, a state legislator and a long-time friend of Galambos’, said that as mayor, she set a high bar for those who would follow her.
“I think she has really set the example for the future leadership of Sandy Springs,” Willard said. “She always put the city first. … I hope whoever comes after her can learn from her example.”
For her part, Galambos said that as she turns 85, she felt she deserved “a softer schedule” than the one she had to deal with as mayor. “No more 7:30 a.m. meetings,” she told the 50-plus civic and political leaders gathered at Overlook Park.
“I’m going to go back to some of my hobbies I have not had time for,” she said. “I love music, and I’m going to go back to my music and enjoy being with my husband.
“No more rushed meals.”