A familiar face has joined the Kennesaw City Council.
In a unanimous vote this week, the council appointed attorney and former Councilman Nimesh Patel to the Post 5 seat formerly held by David Blinkhorn. Blinkhorn resigned recently to run for the statehouse seat vacated by Republican Bert Reeves.
Patel will serve the remainder of Blinkhorn’s term, which expires at the end of the year.
Patel last served on council from March 2016 to January 2018. Post 3 Councilman Leonard Church was found guilty of child molestation in December 2015 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. When Patel ran for Church’s seat unopposed, the election was canceled and he was, instead, appointed to the post.
“Mr. Patel, welcome back. We know you’re experienced in this and you can hit the ground running,” Mayor Derek Easterling said at Monday’s council meeting. “We don’t lose any ground with you coming in.”
Patel cited his former experience on the council and other roles within city government when asked why he sought the appointment. Until his appointment Monday, Patel served on the city’s development authority and its license and review board.
“I can hopefully hit the ground running (and) help the city continue moving forward in a positive manner,” he said.
Although Patel has prior experience as a member of city council, that experience was brief. In 2017, he decided he would not run for reelection. His day job had become too demanding, and he and his wife were considering moving, he said.
“So I couldn’t devote 100% to the city business,” he said Tuesday. “If you know me, I try to give 100%, otherwise it’s not fair to the city.”
Patel did move, but stayed within city limits, he said. He was ultimately succeeded by Pat Ferris, who still holds the Post 3 council seat.
Patel has not decided whether he will seek reelection before Blinkhorn’s term expires at the end of this year.
“I’m not looking past my current term,” he said. “I did commit to the (remainder) of the term, and I’ll give it 110%. And as it gets closer, I’ll just determine where I am at that point.”
A native of Lakeland, Florida, Patel moved to Kennesaw in 2000 to further his legal career. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida, his law degree at the University of Arkansas and his master’s degree in tax law at the University of Denver. He is an attorney at Unum Group, where he leads a team specializing in employee benefits and insurance and tax law, he said.
In addition to his work in city government, Patel helped create foundations for Awtrey Middle and Big Shanty Elementary schools and is the current president of the Kennesaw Mountain High School magnet foundation, he said. He is also the current president of the Legacy Park homeowner’s association board of directors, according to the Legacy Park website.