The City of Suwanee functions under a Council-Manager form of government. Suwanee's City Council is comprised of six members, including the mayor.
Suwanee’s six Councilmembers are responsible for creating the broad vision for the City and fashioning and adopting policies and ordinances that forward that vision. Councilmembers approve the City’s annual budget, make appointments to various citizen-run boards, and vote on rezonings and variance requests. They also work cooperatively with various regional and state organizations to address issues of regional impact.
The mayor presides over Council meetings, votes along with other Councilmembers on issues, and often serves as Suwanee’s official representative at area meetings, ribbon-cuttings, and ceremonial functions. The mayor signs the City’s official contracts and agreements.
A professionally trained city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the City. Functioning as Suwanee’s chief operations officer, the city manager prepares the budget, manages staff, and implements the City’s broad policies.
Meet Suwanees Elected Officials
Before being elected mayor in 2011, James "Jimmy" Burnette Jr. served on City Council for 15 years, providing constant leadership and vision as Suwanee grew into a regional leader in the areas of smart managed growth, downtown development, and parks. But Burnette's Suwanee roots go even deeper than that: He was born and raised in Suwanee, and his father served as a City Councilmember for 32 years, from 1963-95.
A former teacher, Burnette currently owns a residential renovations business. He's also married to an educator, Caron, who teaches kindergarten at Suwanee Elementary School. Longtime members of Suwanee United Methodist Church, the Burnettes have two sons, Jim and Bryan; Bryan and his wife, Lisa, are parents of the Burnettes' grandchildren, Darcy and Sean.
Burnette is an active member of the Georgia Municipal Association, an executive committee member of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, and a founding and current member of Suwanee's Downtown Development Authority. He has a bachelor's degree in biology from Georgia Southern University and is a graduate of the 2003 Leadership Gwinnett class. Email Burnette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Foster came to City Council in 2006 after serving on both Suwanee’s Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Manager of enterprise data solutions with Verizon Wireless in Alpharetta, Foster also served on the Suwanee Day planning committee, volunteered with the PlayTown Suwanee community build, and participated in the Sims Lake Park master planning process. Father of five, Foster has a bachelor’s degree in mineral engineering from the University of Alabama, a master of science degree in computer information science from Troy State University, and an MBA from Elon College. He is a member of Saint Monica’s Catholic Church. “I’d like to see more large corporations invest in our community,” Foster says, “and look forward to helping enhance our capabilities to make Suwanee a great place to work.” E-mail him at email@example.com.
Dick Goodman moved to Suwanee from Miami in 2006 and almost immediately immersed himself in community initiatives. Goodman participated in the 2030 comprehensive planning process and served as a citizen-member of the water system focus group and the Downtown Master Plan steering committee as well as the first chair of the Suwanee Public Arts Commission – all before being elected to City Council to fill an unexpired term in 2009. Goodman, who now serves as chairman of the Gwinnett County Public Library board, is a freelance marketing/communications writer and journalist with a passion for photography. His clients have included agricultural, financial, pharmaceutical, and technology companies as well as economic development agencies in the U.S. and Asia. A graduate of Clarkson College in Potsdam, New York, he is a former columnist with the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Miami Today. Goodman and his wife, Louise, have six children between them and 12 grandchildren, three of whom live in Suwanee. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Pro Tem Beth Hilscher is a Suwanee attorney who first came to City Council in July 2012 to fill an unexpired post. A Gwinnett County resident since her high school days at Shiloh, Hilscher and her family, which includes husband Steve and children Ryan and Emily, have lived in Suwanee since 1999. Hilscher's law office is on Main Street, where she works primarily with small businesses and estate planning. She's been a member of the Downtown Development Authority, active with Suwanee Kiwanis, and serves on the North Gwinnett High School Council and the board of Suwanee Performing Arts. She previously served on her Ruby Forest Homeowners Association board and is a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett. Hilscher earned a bachelor's degree in education (with minors in psychology and art) from North Georgia College and a law degree from Georgia State University. "As a business owner, property owner, and a parent," she says, "I want to ensure that Suwanee continues to be a wonderful place to raise a family and operate a business." Email her at email@example.com.
Owner of Freeland Painting and Construction, Doug Ireland joined City Council in 2012. Originally from Indiana, he and his wife, Keri, moved to Suwanee in 2003, after living in metro Atlanta for several years. "Moving here felt like we'd won the lottery," he says. Ireland serves on the Suwanee Day planning committee and is an ambassador with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the Suwanee Business Alliance. He has a business degree from Indiana University. Email Ireland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Linnea Miller joined City Council in 2014. A resident of Suwanee for more than 15 years, Miller worked previously as a preschool teacher and community volunteer. She has volunteered with Arts in the Park and Suwanee Fest and, before joining Council, was chair of the City's Public Arts Commission. Miller's family includes her husband, Eric, and four children. "The opportunity to run for City Council came at the right time for the stage of my family," she says. "I saw it as a way to set an example for my children through servant leadership and civic involvement." Email her at email@example.com.