Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and mayoral candidate Dontaye Carter.

Both Sandy Springs mayoral candidates believe COVID-19 vaccinations are necessary to get past the pandemic but differ in how they would get more residents to take a jab.

Reporter Newspapers and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber hosted a candidate forum on Sept. 27 that brought together the 17 candidates for the City Council and mayoral races. The event was a partnership with WABE and Atlanta Civic Circle. 

Election day is Nov. 2, with early voting beginning Oct. 12. 

Watch the mayoral forum below:

Mayor Rusty Paul said he’s been going out in the community to urge residents to get vaccinated, while mayoral candidate Dontaye Carter said a vaccine mandate is necessary. 

“I’ve spoken to many doctors. I’m well aware of the issues that are going on,” Carter said. “And the reality is we’ve got to go ahead and mandate this vaccine. We’ve got to ensure that we are putting people’s lives above liberty.”

Paul said he’s been going out with the city’s fire department to apartment complexes to urge residents to get vaccinated.

“It’s been an amazing job of getting out in the community, working with people, and we’re making some progress,” Paul said. “We’ve increased the number of our city employees who’ve gotten vaccinated.”

The candidates also discussed how to build a more diverse and inclusive community. 

“Our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that we’ve talked so much about, they’ve already submitted their recommendations. When are we going to act on them?” Carter said.

Paul said he needed to correct Carter because the task force hasn’t finished its work yet.

The Civic Dinners that Paul launched, which facilitated discussions around diversity and inclusion, had more than 300 participants, he added. “And it was real clear that we had people who didn’t feel included,” Paul said. “They didn’t feel involved.”

That led to the formation of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, he said.

Other topics included how to address worker shortages, affordable housing and public safety. 

In his closing remarks, Paul said he’s focused on keeping Sandy Springs safe, protecting its neighborhoods, and keeping taxes low. 

Carter said in closing that he wanted to make a difference in the community. “I’m going to put the interests of the people at the forefront,” he said. 

The forum also included the 15 candidates running for six council district seats. Council candidates are elected by the voters in the district they serve. At least two new members will join City Council next year as Steve Soteres (District 2) and Chris Burnett (District 3) decided not to seek reelection.

City Council candidates gave their views on protecting the city’s existing neighborhoods, traffic congestion and how they would improve diversity and inclusion in the city. They all agreed the city needs to help ensure affordable housing is available for workers including firefighters, police, nurses and teachers, although their opinions on how to achieve that differed.

Visit Reporter Newspapers’ Youtube channel for each of the City Council forums.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.