The spry octogenarian turned down a re-election bid in favor of again becoming an ordinary citizen in the city she was instrumental in founding and shaping.
“I’m 85 and I thought it was best to quit while I’m at the top of my game,” said Galambos, who took office in 2005, immediately after Sandy Springs incorporated. “I [also] need to slow down.” After 30 years on the move, one would be hard pressed to disagree.
That’s how long it took her and other cityhood proponents to gain approval from lawmakers to ultimately lay the decision at the feet of area residents.
“It was a hard struggle,” Galambos said. “It was much more difficult to obtain approval for a city of Sandy Springs than it’s been to govern the city.”
Galambos is leaving office after having amassed a fair amount of political capital — having presided over lauded moves like acceptance of a private-public partnership for municipal services and approval of the looming city center redevelopment project.
Galambos’s presence — namely the distinct pairing of her airy voice with an authoritative demeanor — will be absent from city council meetings and other city government settings come 2014.
As the city moves forward, one will find its matriarch more often than not putting her “feet up” and enjoying time with her physician husband of 64 years, John.
The changing of the guard will be made complete with the swearing in of successor Rusty Paul, whom Galambos endorsed at the start of his candidacy.
“There wouldn’t be a city of Sandy Springs without her,” said Paul, who served on the city council with Galambos from 2005-09. “It was her perseverance that made it happen.
“Most people would’ve given up and just moved on, but that’s not who Eva is. … She’s unbelievably tenacious.”
District 52 State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, met Galambos in 1968, when he was working for then-Rep. Rodney Cook Sr. Wilkinson got to know John and Eva Galambos better starting in 1986, when he and his wife Pat moved to the city.
“Eva is the city of Sandy Springs,” Wilkinson said. “She is the very heart and soul of our city. She’s such a remarkable person. When we talk about being mission oriented, that’s an understatement when it comes to Eva. It was the city of Sandy Springs, and she accomplished it. It’s very, very important to know she couldn’t have done it without John. He’s probably the most understanding man and the tolerable spouse. What a special team.
“This mission, this goal, she was in it for all the right reasons. It was never really about Eva. It was about Sandy Springs. The fact that we’ve had a very successful eight years now as a city, it’s because of her.”
The application of Galambos’ brand of tenacity is a hallmark of her legacy, which she put into perspective during an interview last week.
“How we managed to start a new city and turn it into a very successful operation is what I’ll remember, and that it jumpstarted a whole lot of others,” said Galambos, referring to new cities like Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and Milton.
The outgoing mayor also offered her gratitude to Sandy Springs residents for being “so supportive and engaged” with the young city.
Said Galambos: “They really have shown a lot of civic support.”