Two of the first people to hold elected office in Sandy Springs are making the rounds of a farewell tour.
Mayor Eva Galambos and District 6 Sandy Springs City Council member Karen Meinzen-McEnerny both decided not to seek reelection his year after serving two terms.
Wendell Willard said a few words about Galambos, his colleague and friend, during a Nov. 18 breakfast honoring her.
Willard, a state representative and Sandy Springs city attorney, told Galambos that she’ll be hearing similar tributes until she officially leaves office in January. She is the city’s first mayor and served two terms before deciding not to seek a third.
“I know you don’t like for people to fawn on you,” Willard said. “I want you to forget about it for the next six weeks.”
The Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce organized the Nov. 18 event, held at The Retreat at Villa Christina in Sandy Springs.
Galambos’ political and business persona is well documented. She was first elected in 2005 after spending years trying to get a Sandy Springs cityhood referendum on the ballot. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations from the University of Illinois. Her husband is John Galambos, a retired gastroenterologist. She has three children and six grandchildren.
City Councilwoman Dianne Fries told the audience that few people know Galambos’ nickname around city hall: Eva Knievel. Fries recalled a few of her experiences riding in a car with Galambos behind the wheel. She remembered a ceremony marking the paving of one of the city’s roads. When the crowd turned to see if the notoriously punctual mayor was on her way, they caught sight of her car lifting off into the air after she barreled over a speed bump.
Fries said she learned to trust Galambos’ driving skills over the years.
“I figured she doesn’t go fast enough for us to die,” Fries said.
Other speakers said that Galambos often recruited them into serving on different boards for the fledgling city. Refusing Galambos’ requests wasn’t an option, they said.
Bruce Alterman, owner of The Brickery, said he met Galambos shortly after he opened his restaurant. “I’m still not sure how found myself on the board of Sandy Springs Revitalization a few weeks later,” Alterman said. “I found myself sitting across the table from Galambos on a sign committee.”
Mayor-elect Rusty Paul, who served with Galambos on the city’s first council, said he told Galambos that his choice not to run for a second term on the council was an “irrevocable decision.”
“I learned a long time ago that you can argue with Eva for an hour and say ‘yes’ or simply save us both the aggravation and say ‘yes’ at the beginning,” Paul said.
Galambos thanked her well wishers and said the city’s success has more to do with them than her.
“I think the reason that it’s been such a pleasure to be the mayor of Sandy Springs is because the people are so special,” Galambos said. “This is a special community. There’s a maturity. There’s a willingness to listen to each other and to get along, and it is a shining light that other communities can aspire to.”
Friends and well wishers gathered at a Sandy Springs on Nov. 24 to say good bye to Councilwoman McEnerny. Galambos was there, as was Mayor-elect Paul, Willard and the two candidates vying for her District 6 City Council seat in the Dec. 3 runoff: Andy Bauman and John Stoj.
McEnerny’s friend Chris Cramer talked about his friend’s service on the council.
“She represented all of us in a way I think is unique,” Cramer said. “If she had wanted to stand again (for reelection), she would’ve won and she would’ve won by a landslide. She’s always understood the issues that affect us.”