The race for mayor took an interesting turn this month.
City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, considered a likely candidate, announced she would not seek to succeed outgoing Mayor Eva Galambos, who is the first, and, so far, only person to serve as Sandy Springs’ mayor.
Meanwhile, local business owner Bob Brown announced he is jumping into the race for the mayor’s office.
Aug. 30 is the last day to register for the Nov. 5 municipal election.
All six of the council seats will be on the ballot this year. So far only one council member, McEnerny, has announced she will not seek re-election to her District 6 seat. Andy Bauman, co-founder of the Sandy Springs Farmers Market, is the only person who has announced their candidacy for the job.
Brown and former City Councilman Rusty Paul are the only two candidates seeking the mayor’s job.
McEnerny, who has served on Sandy Springs City Council since the city began in 2006, said she didn’t have the energy the mayor’s job requires.
“We were blessed to have a mayor that was willing and able to devote that type of commitment to it,” McEnerny said in a telephone interview. “I have a lot of other interests that I’ve put aside as I have dealt with my council responsibilities.”
Brown, who owns Red Baron Antiques, also ran in 2009 and lost to Galambos.
Brown’s entry in the race assures that one of the campaign issues will be the city’s recent use of eminent domain to acquire businesses for its city center project. Brown owns property along Roswell Road that the city is interested in obtaining as part of its downtown revitalization plan.
Brown said he will have to distance his campaign from the sale of his property.
“I’d have to step back off that,” Brown said. “It’s only one tiny piece of property. I own a lot more property than that. It’s just one tiny piece of property and I think the city should make some kind of fair offer for it and buy it. I want to sell. I just don’t want to give it away.”
Brown has been critical of the city’s treatment of local businesses. He praised Galambos’ leadership style and thinks he can build on her record.
“I just think that I have some ideas for the city and things that I think could help it be a better city,” Brown said. “I think Eva’s done an incredibly good job, and I think she’s left out parts of the business community that need to be there.”
Paul has all but assumed the status of heir-apparent to Galambos. He announced his candidacy at a press conference in April where Galambos announced her retirement and endorsed Paul as her successor. His work as a lobbyist and ties to the business community, as well as his early announcement, gave him time to build support for his campaign.
Paul has said he intends to mirror Galambos’ management style. On July 8 he announced he had raised $65,000 in campaign contributions, including $5,000 he contributed.
Paul said he isn’t taking his head start and Galambos’ endorsement for granted.
“No not at all, we’re still short of our campaign budget,” Paul said.
He said “it’s not cheap” running a campaign to reach 100,000 residents.
When asked about the eminent domain issue, Paul said that condemnation of property is “always an absolute last resort.”
“You find in situations where you’ve bought 95 percent of what you need for a project and you’ve got somebody who’s trying to hold it up because they can make a lot of money, and you’ve already invested taxpayer dollars in it,” Paul said. “It should be an absolute last resort and you have to pay fair market value for whatever you take.”
Brown said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to raise as much money as Paul.
“I know a lot of people in the business community that see things my way,” Brown said.