Burnette Takes Hard Path to Top
Suwanee mayor-elect began career in challenging time.
Suwanee, you'll really have one of your own in charge soon.
"He's really not a politician," Caron Burnette said of husband Jimmy, the city's mayor-elect. "He's more of a statesman. Politicians are in it for self-gain."
Burnette is a lifelong resident of the city and one who came by his success the hard way. Though he has longtime family ties in the city and is the son of a former council member, his path to the top was not smooth.
He graduated from Georgia Southern with a biology degree, yet never pursued that line of work.
"There were no jobs," he recalled Tuesday of 1974, when he graduated. He went into teaching for a short time, then went into residential renovation. He now owns his own business in that area. (Mayor and City Council posts in Suwanee are not full-time jobs.)
But Burnette the businessman also knows the value of connections, and that extends to politics. He is on the executive committee of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, and former Gwinnett BOC Chairman Wayne Hill and state Rep. Josh Clark were at Burnette's campaign gathering Tuesday.
Caron Burnette is not a Suwanee native, but is from Albany and met Burnette at Georgia Southern.
"It was love at first sight," she recalled Tuesday. They met at a fraternity party at Georgia Southern. Caron Burnette now is a teacher at Suwanee Elementary.
Burnette is well-regarded by other members of Suwanee City Council, but he still will be a breed apart when he takes over in January. Other occupations on the council will include engineer, data consultant, marketing communications and wealth manager.
"If you cut Jimmy, he bleeds Suwanee," longtime friend Tony LaPenna said Tuesday. LaPenna noted that he is a former Peachtree Corners resident who moved to Suwanee on Burnette's recommendation. "He told me what a great place it was to live, and he was right," LaPenna said.