The city of Sandy Springs has selected Andrea Surratt as only its second city manager since its incorporation in 2005.

“One of the things I was very concerned about when we started this process was the caliber of the candidates, and we had some excellent candidates,” District 1 Sandy Springs City Councilman John Paulson said of the process to replace John McDonough. “The five we short-listed all can do that job. This is a fantastic pick and I’m sure she’ll do a great job.”

At its meeting Dec. 3 at City Springs, the council voted 6-0 to approve Surratt, the Bozeman, Montana, city manager, as its new city manager.

McDonough left in August to take the Greenville, South Carolina, city manager job. Peggy Merriss, who retired in December after serving for as Decatur’s longtime city manager, has served as the interim city manager since then. Surratt will start Jan. 6, and Merriss will assist her for a brief period during the transition.

Surratt, who has more than 28 years of municipal experience, is a North Carolina native who served in managerial roles for that state’s cities of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and Hickory. She also served as Bozeman’s interim city manager before being picked as the permanent one.

“I am honored to serve the city of Sandy Springs as city manager during this exciting time,” Surratt, who did not attend the council meeting, said in a news release. “Cities are strengthened by meaningful community discussions about growth, neighborhood preservation, revitalization, and inclusive community identity. I look forward to working with the … council, citizens and staff to shape this young city, originally envisioned by Eva Galambos, into an uncommon and timeless community.”

Mayor Rusty Paul said Surratt was one of more than 500 candidates who applied for the job via a national search conducted by an executive search firm. Ten hopefuls interviewed with the city before five finalists were named and Surratt was selected.

Her annual base salary is $222,000; McDonough’s salary was $249,312 when he departed, according to city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun. While in Bozeman, Surratt managed a city that had 427 employees, and Sandy Springs has 541, including 455 full-timers.

“When Andrea came to town, some of us took some of the candidates to dinner, and (my wife) Jan and I had the opportunity to have dinner with Andrea and she’s an impressive woman,” Paul said. “Interestingly, her history is very similar to John McDonough. She is about the same age John was when he got here, and she has similar experience. This is the perfect time for her to come here.”

In addition to Paulson, other council members praised Surratt as a candidate.

“I believe this is our most solemn obligation in place, to have a city manager to lead our charter,” District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman said. “... I was blown away by Andrea. This is a momentous occasion. She will be an extraordinary leader for this city. I know all of us put a lot of time into this. … I’m excited to support this (decision).”

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