John Paulson, center, is beginning his second term representing District 1 on the Sandy Springs City Council.
John Paulson, center, is beginning his second term representing District 1 on the Sandy Springs City Council.

John Paulson wants to believe he ran unopposed for reelection in November because people like the job he’s doing as Sandy Springs’ District 1 City Councilman.

But Paulson isn’t one for self-congratulation.

“Another part of me says people decided if I want to do it again, I’m welcome to it,” Paulson said.

Whether that’s true or not, Paulson was in fact the only member of the Sandy Springs City Council seeking re-election who didn’t face opposition. He’s looking forward to serving a second term on the council. Paulson, 64, was first elected in 2009, defeating Jim Squire.

He’d served on the Committee for Sandy Springs back when Eva Galambos, who decided not to seek a third term as the city’s mayor in 2013, was campaigning for cityhood. Aside from that, he really had no interest in politics. But he said he felt a little restless, too.

“I was getting tired of sitting in front of the TV and complaining,” he said.

He decided to run for his first term after he ran into Galambos at a bike race in Sandy Springs. She mentioned that former Councilman Doug MacGinnitie wouldn’t be running for the District 1 seat again. Paulson decided to take advantage of the opportunity. “I wanted to know more about this new city of Sandy Springs and help guide the new city,” he said.

Paulson is originally from Chicago. His day job is as an engineer. He has a wife, Mary, two grown children and one grandchild.

He works as Business Development Manager for Milliken Infrastructure Solutions. He often brings his engineering background to his job as a councilman. Recently he took a keen interest in the repair of Lake Forrest Drive in Sandy Springs, which isn’t even in his district. During City Council discussion he spoke at length about the condition of the road, which had been closed due to rock slides, and gave the council his opinion about the proposed fixes.

“It’s a construction-related activity,” he said, explaining his involvement. “I’m a geotechnical engineer.”

Being an engineer is something that Paulson says helps with his decision making.

“There’s a lot of money spent in this city on construction, of one kind or another,” Paulson said. “It helps me understand things sometimes and explain things to the council.”

City Councilman Gabriel Sterling, who works as a political consultant, said Paulson ran unopposed in November because he’s an effective councilman and lives in a safe district for incumbents. He said unlike other districts in the city, there aren’t many neighborhoods that are well organized in District 1.

“John does a very good job of keeping in touch with his constituents,” Sterling said.

Paulson said he actually encouraged his constituents to run against him in November just to get people involved in the political process, but there were no takers.

With the city’s downtown redevelopment plans unfolding over the next four years, plans that include many construction projects, Paulson thinks he’ll be able to make meaningful contributions in his second term.

“I felt like I could still contribute to that whole aspect of the city’s growth,” Paulson said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of