Citizens considering a run for office in the new city of Tucker got some advice from Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams and Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling at a panel discussion earlier this month.

Both officials said their advice at the Tucker Civic Association’s Dec. 8 discussion included a large amount of fair warning about the challenges of elected office.

“First, for those looking to run, don’t,” Sterling recalled joking. “City Council, school board and county commission are the toughest elected offices that exist. Your neighbors know where you live and will always see you at Publix.”

“I said, ‘A lot of it is on-the-job training,’” recalled Williams.

Sterling and Williams agreed that a good city attorney is one key to good leadership. The first advice Brookhaven officials got from the state is, “Listen to your city attorney,” Williams said.

“Look to the other cities to not repeat any mistakes they have made,” Sterling recalled saying. “You deserve to make all of your own unique mistakes. That is going to happen no matter how much you plan. We are all human.”

“We thanked them for their hard work and the importance of what they were endeavoring on,” Sterling said.

The incorporation of Tucker in northern DeKalb County was approved in the November election. Voters there will elect the city’s first mayor and council members on March 1.

Sandy Springs kicked off the modern cityhood movement with its historic incorporation in 2005 as Georgia’s first new city in decades. Brookhaven formed in northern DeKalb in 2012.

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