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Burnette Called 'Unique' and 'Common Sense-ical'

Suwanee mayoral candidate has tradition and experience.

Updated 8:49 a.m., July 21, 2011

The family tradition is undeniable. But it likely won't be a case of old-line politics if Jimmy Burnette is elected mayor of Suwanee in November.

Burnette is viewed by many as progressive and an agent of growth in Suwanee, which added almost 7,000 residents in the past decade.

"It's unique in that Jimmy is a native son," said fellow Suwanee Council Member Dick Goodman on Tuesday, when Burnette formally announced his candidacy for mayor. "He's seen the change ... he's been instrumental in the changes that we all enjoy."

Burnette, a council member since 1996 and son of a former Suwanee council member, is the first person to formally declare for the post that will be vacated by Dave Williams, who is not running for re-election.

Burnette "breaks that mold" of a council member that is stuck in the past, said campaign consultant Kellie Austin, who also worked on Charlotte Nash's successful campaign for Gwinnett Commission chairman.

"He was the first to get Suwanee in the Gwinnett Municipal Association," Austin said. "It's because of him that we have Town Center. No one else was willing to do that."

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson said Burnette is "well thought of" by other members of the Gwinnett Municipal Association. "That's why I put him on the executive committee. ... He's very thoughtful, very common sense-ical."

Burnette has served under four Suwanee mayors -- Williams, Nick Masino, Chris Yoder and Richard Trice. As then-mayor pro tem, he took over mayor duties when Trice resigned.

Opposition from within City Hall seems unlikely. Goodman is willing to endorse Burnette if asked. "We campaign as a team," Goodman said. "(Suwanee's growth) is a record we're all proud of."

Suwanee has held up better than many municipalities in the recession, and its managed growth in the past decade has been impressive. It has an unemployment rate of just under 4 percent, and relatively few residential foreclosures or crime problems.

Its parks system has lured many residents and visitors. Just this year, events such as the Little River Band concert, Days Of Our Lives book signing and Woofstock drew many people from throughout metro Atlanta.

"We're looking to grow (jobs)," Burnette said. "We're looking for ways to bring in more good jobs. We want people to look at it as a good value for their tax dollars."

Burnette is a graduate of North Gwinnett High and Georgia Southern University. He is self-employed as a residential remodeler. Burnette is a resident of Suwanee's Old Town area. He is married (to Caron Burnette), has two children, and two grandchildren.

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