Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul says he is undecided about seeking a third term in next year’s city election — a step back from previous comments that he is likely to retire from political life.

“I will make a decision in Q1 [the first quarter of] 2021,” Paul said in an email when asked whether he intends to run for re-election.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

Paul is the second mayor to serve in the young city and first won the office in 2013. He was re-elected in 2017 unopposed after a challenger dropped out. The election itself was canceled, allowing Paul and unchallenged City Council members to take office without a formal vote.

During his 2017 re-election campaign announcement, Paul, who had just turned 65, said it would “likely be my last campaign.” He spoke in terms of retirement from political life, saying that after a second term as mayor, he would “ride off into the sunset and play with my grandkids and work on my farm and play with my bees.”

Earlier in 2017, Paul also considered but ultimately decided against a run for the 6th Congressional District seat, a decision he announced with similar comments about nearing the end of his political career.

Paul has previously served as a Georgia state senator, chair of the Georgia Republican Party, and an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other positions.

The 2021 election is nearly a year away and is officially nonpartisan. Through a city spokesperson, Paul said it is too early to comment on other possible implications. But Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow presidential victory in Georgia over Republican Donald Trump, a shift anchored in Sandy Springs and other metro Atlanta suburbs, is already stirring talk of possible political effects on local races. Some participants and observers said the Democratic “blue wave” of 2018 affected the outcome of the 2019 mayoral election in neighboring Dunwoody.

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