If you asked him a year ago, Rusty Paul would’ve said that he wouldn’t seek another term as the mayor of Sandy Springs.
Even a few months ago, the Alabama native who has dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to public service wasn’t sure what his next move would be. Several members of his family, Paul says, urged him to run for Tom Price’s 6th District Congressional seat, which has been since filled by fellow north Fulton republican Karen Handel.
Paul didn’t feel that he was needed in Washington, but has had a change of heart about the mayor’s seat in Sandy Springs. On Monday at Lost Corners Park, Paul declared that he would seek re-election this November, citing unfinished business.
Now in his mid-60s, Paul said this will “likely” be his last political campaign.
Paul said there are four major reasons he wants to stay on as mayor of Sandy Springs: transportation, development, finishing the City Springs project and getting the city more control over its water system.
If re-elected, Paul said one of his first goals would to reach out to the new mayor of Atlanta, whoever that is, and discuss changing how the water system in Sandy Springs is managed.
“They say that Atlanta has the highest water rates in the country — and they do — except for Sandy Springs,” Paul said. “We’re paying a 20 percent premium over that and get virtually no maintenance done on our systems. We have over 130 fire hydrants that aren’t functioning or are functioning at a sub-par level, and that’s unacceptable.”
Paul said he’d like to work with the new Atlanta mayor on lowering water rates and improving maintenance of the system. If Sandy Springs and Atlanta can’t come to an agreement, Paul would take it to the courts, he said.
Paul was hoping that City Springs — a public and private redevelopment of the downtown district and its surrounding neighborhood that includes a new city hall, apartments, commercial space and concert halls — would be finished in four years, “but it’s taking about four years and four months” and he wants to see it through.
Development and transportation are other areas Paul thinks he can help Sandy Springs on over the next four years.
“There is nothing more important to this community than improving mobility, as well as playing a regional role in developing a transit plan,” Paul said. “I want to be a part of that discussion.”
When asked why he didn’t pursue Price’s seat in the recent 6th District election, Paul said it just “wasn’t the right time” for him.
“You should be elected to congress when you’re in your 40s, because it’s really going to take you 10 years to have any impact,” Paul said. “Ten years from now, I’ll probably be headed to the nursing home.”
Sandy Springs became incorporated as a city in 2005 and Paul is its second mayor, after he succeeded the late Eva Galambos after the 2013 election. Paul has been a Sandy Springs councilman, a state senator, the chair of Georgia’s Republican Party and an assistant secretary for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.
If there is anyone who will run against Paul, they haven’t announced yet.
Said Paul: “If the voters allow me to come back I want to work on those four areas, then I’ll ride off into the sunset and play with my grandkids, live on my farm, play with my bees and do all the things I haven’t had the chance to do.”