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. In order to have productive and informed sessions, the City Council voluntarily adopted a Code of Conduct.
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.
The City of Suwanee has two primary vision statements which are both compatible and informed by the other. The vision statements are important tools which guide decisions about how to manage growth within the city.
Meet Suwanee’s Elected Officials
Mayor Jimmy Burnette
Jimmy Burnette served on Suwanee’s City Council for 16 years before being elected mayor in 2011. He has provided long-term leadership and vision as Suwanee has grown 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.
Burnette is an active member of the Georgia Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Council and Federal Policy Council. He serves on the board of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful and he is chairman of the Partnership Gwinnett Public Funding Entity. The mayor also is the lay leader at Suwanee United Methodist Church, of which he is a longtime member. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia Southern University and is a graduate of the 2003 Leadership Gwinnett class.
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.”
Mayor Pro Tem Dick Goodman
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.
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."
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.
First elected to City Council in 2014, Linnea Miller has been active in Suwanee and other community activities since moving to the city 19 years ago from her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Committed to serving her Suwanee constituents, she has participated in advanced leadership and governance programs including: the Leadership Gwinnett (class of 2016), the UGA/Carl Vincent School of Government Leadership Institute and the Georgia Municipal Association where she earned a Certificate of Recognition for the more than 72 hours of advanced training.
Linnea has been a leading figure in creating Suwanee's reputation for being an innovative, cutting edge community that is attractive to families and business. She was one of the founding members of Suwanee's Public Art Commission and served as its chairman in 2012, during which the City's nationally renowned and widely copied, SculpTour was initiated. In addition, she served on the Suwanee 2040 Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, the Suwanee Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, and as a volunteer for Suwanee events including Suwanee Day and Arts in the Park.
Beyond her community leadership and government roles, Linnea is actively involved in education as a member of the North Gwinnett Schools Association, an early-childhood education teacher at Suwanee First United Methodist Preschool at Sugar Hill Christian Academy, and is currently teaching at Gwinnett Church Weekday.
Linnea's family includes her husband, Eric, and four children.
City Council qualifications
The mayor is elected by popular vote. Councilmembers serve four-year terms. They run for specific posts, but serve citywide. Terms of office begin January 1 following the election. Elections are held every two years.
In order to run for mayor or City Council, candidates must:
- Be a Suwanee resident for at least 180 days prior to qualifying
- Continue to reside in the City throughout their period of service
- Be qualified to vote in municipal elections.