State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs.

Editor’s note: State Rep. Wendell Willard is the city attorney for Sandy Springs. He wrote this column honoring his friend, Mayor Eva Galambos, who is leaving office after two terms. 

Eight years….wow, it’s hard to believe.  It seems more like two years, rather than eight, since Sandy Springs became a city.

But, what I want to talk about is our mayor, Eva Galambos, and the great leadership we’ve had from her.  To have us come out of the gate as not only the talk of the state, but nationally and even internationally.

Hardly a week goes by that she isn’t being interviewed by someone asking about how we have accomplished all that we’re doing as a new city, especially through private companies contracting for services.

Eva envisioned long before we became a city we could be different.  What she meant was, Sandy Springs could provide city services at a higher quality and lower price than comparable governments, and that’s exactly what has been accomplished.

Her leadership has kept our city true to its core services and freed up millions of dollars for capital improvements so sorely needed in our community.

Look at what has been accomplished in so many areas under her leadership.  Really too numerous to start listing, but one in particular that stands out is parks and recreation: Morgan Falls Overlook Park, youth sports activities, partnering with the public schools to use the playgrounds for the public, and on and on.

Go to the city webpage [www.sandyspringsga.org/City-Departments/Recreation-and-Parks] and just scroll through all the programs offered by the city to this community — most of which would have never been available but for the fact we became a city.

Having long-term vision is difficult for public officials, yet Eva has met this challenge.  She leaves the city with a cash reserve of $32 million and we began in 2006 with $0 in the bank — doing so while we weathered the worst economic time in our memory.  How was this done?   It was done through great city leadership, led by Eva.

When people ask me about Eva and what kind of person she is, I explain she is most the charming and engaging person — she never knows a stranger. But don’t ever think you can pull something over on her.  As she listens to your proposal she will in a kind way explain what deficiencies she sees in your approach, and why.

After working with Eva over the years, it’s easy to tell when she has made a decision.  She stiffens her neck, lowers her chin against her chest and gives a very compelling explanation of why she agrees or does not agree with you.

So, due in great measure to Mayor Eva Galambos, our city has been launched and is on a chartered course continuing the delivery of services which enhance our lives, add value to our properties and make us proud to tell others we live in Sandy Springs.

She may no longer be mayor, but the foundation she has prepared will sustain our city far into the future, with the new leadership continuing the course.  Yes, she is receiving much deserved recognition for her years of work on our behalf, but the greatest tribute we can pay her is to not let our heritage of this great city be diminished.

Thank you, Eva, and God speed.

Rep. Wendell Willard of Sandy Springs represents District 51 in the Georgia House of Representatives and serves as the city of Sandy Springs’ city attorney.