A newly formed commission to review the Sandy Springs city charter will hold its first meeting Feb. 4.

The city’s 15th anniversary required the creation of a Charter Commission comprised of local residents to review and make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly.

The commission is expected to submit its report to City Council this summer.

Mayor Rusty Paul appointed Gabriel Sterling, a former councilmember and former voting system implementation manager for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office who gained international fame for decrying President Trump’s election conspiracy theories. He will serve as chairman of the commission. City Council appointed Ronda Smith, who serves as president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods.

Members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate whose districts include all or part of the city also appointed members. The full commission includes:

  • Gabriel Sterling, Chair
  • Ronda Smith
  • Sunny Park
  • Melody Kelley
  • Tom Mahaffey, who heads the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce
  • Tochie Blad
  • Suleima Millan-Salimas
  • Andrea Settles, a city Planning Commission member
  • Tricia Gephardt
  • Chip Collins, chair of the Sandy Springs Development Authority and former councilmember

The current City Council does not provide the commission with a list of areas to review, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. The commission can talk to current councilmembers and the community for input.

The city’s first Charter Commission formed after the city’s fifth anniversary in 2011. City code required the council to call for the commission at its first regularly scheduled meeting after its anniversary date of Dec. 1.

“I’m honored to be on it. I’ll do my job. I’ll take a close look at everything,” Collins said. “But right offhand, I can’t point them to say, ‘Yes, this is something that needs to be changed in the charter.’”

He recalls the first commission looking at term limits and staggered terms for council seats. But ultimately the panel rejected those ideas. The current commision might expect to review those again.

Collins said staggered terms were considered previously because of a potential situation were “all six people either don’t run again or they lose and you have complete turnover, you get no institutional knowledge.”

But, he said, the city has had the benefit of staggered terms without mandating them because just about every election cycle its had turnover of at least two council seats. The city keeps a mix of members with experience and fresh faces and new eyes, he said.

For more information about the commission’s first meeting, see the city website here.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.