Outgoing Sandy Springs City Councilmembers Ken Dishman and Gabriel Sterling were honored by Mayor Rusty Paul with small trophies at the Dec. 19 council meeting.

Gabriel Sterling with his trophy for City Council service. (John Ruch)

And “neither one of them are going very far,” Paul added, saying he will appoint both men to some sort of government body next month.

Dishman and Sterling chose not to run for re-election this year. Dishman, who had served since 2014, wanted to return to private business life. Sterling, who won the office in 2011, made an unsuccessful run for Fulton County chair.

In the new year, Steve Soteres will replace Dishman in the District 2 seat, serving the city’s north end, and Jody Reichel will replace Sterling in the central District 4 seat.

Paul said Sterling will be “sorely missed by this body,” especially as “one of the nerdiest guys” who understands the fine points of public policies. The mayor said Dishman “brought a lot of perspective to this body” as well as ties to the community.

Outgoing Councilmember Ken Dishman with the trophy from Mayor Rusty Paul. (John Ruch)

Dishman said it had been an “immense pleasure and privilege” to serve and work on such efforts as the City Springs civic center and the “Next Ten” land-use and zoning code rewrites. He also praised the city staff and especially City Manager John McDonough for creating a culture of success.

Sterling noted the city’s many successes since incorporating in 2005, including literally saving lives by improving ambulance response times. He said that he had been inspired to get into politics by Ronald Reagan, and said, paraphrasing the late president, “To truly be part of making a shining city on a hill is an amazing thing.”

Sterling remains vice-chair of the Sandy Springs Development Authority. Sterling, who runs a start-up beer brewing company called Elbow Bend, also plans to appear at the next council meeting as a regular citizen arguing for a technical clarification in the licensing law for beer and wine tastings. He appeared in that role at the Dec. 19 council work session as well to float the idea.

From left, City Councilmembers John Paulson and Chris Burnett share a laugh their outgoing colleagues Ken Dishman and Gabriel Sterling after the Dec. 19 council meeting. (John Ruch)

Paul did not say what body he might appoint the former councilmembers to join. One possibility is a new affordable housing task force the council previously authorized him to appoint sometime in the new year. A city spokesperson could not immediately clarify the status or process of that task force’s formation.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.