With Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chair John Eaves resigning earlier this month to run for Atlanta mayor in the Nov. 7 election, just before qualifying for that race, Gabriel Sterling’s days as the District 4 Sandy Springs City Council member may be numbered.

Sterling announced earlier this year his intent to run for Eaves’ seat in 2018, meaning he planned to finish his term on the council before ramping up his campaign for commission chair. But Eaves left the board as mandated by law to run for mayor, because his term had more than 30 days left in it, a Nov. 7 special election has been planned, with qualifying set for Sept. 18 through 20.

Sterling may have to resign from the council before qualifying for the chair’s seat.

“The law is unclear and ambiguous on this point,” he said. “John Eaves had to resign because there was more than 30 days left in his term. In this situation, with the end of my term, I may be able to stay. With the county commission chair’s race, the likelihood of there being several candidates means there will probably be a runoff (Dec. 5). I’ve had discussions with the attorney general’s office and the city attorney. I expect to have an answer by September. I will know I can make it through the Sept. 19 (council) meeting. Frankly, (the council has) done most of the heavy lifting, approving the zoning code and development code. I want to do a few things before I leave. I don’t like quitting, but if the law says I have to go, I’ll have to go.”

Sterling said the council could appoint someone to fill the seat for the remainder of the year.

According to the city charter, “If such vacancy occurs within 12 months of the expiration of the term of that office, the city council or those members remaining shall appoint a successor for the remainder of the term. This provision shall also apply to a temporary vacancy created by the suspension from office of the mayor or any council member.”

Two candidates – Le’Dor Milteer and Jody Reichel – qualified last week to run for Sterling’s seat in the Nov. 7 election. The winner of that election would take office in January. The new commission chair could take office as early as November, as soon as a winner is declared and the election is certified.

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