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Five City Leaders Inducted into Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame

Five City Leaders Inducted into Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame

Five remarkable Georgia city leaders were inducted into the Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame during the Georgia Municipal Association’s Annual Convention in Savannah.

The Hall of Fame recognizes city officials who have made extraordinary contributions to the city they serve and have exhibited strong support of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). This year’s inductees are:

Phil Best, former mayor of Dublin and former GMA president
Vince Williams, mayor of Union City and outgoing GMA president
Steve Edwards, mayor of Sugar Hill
Jimmy Burnette, mayor of Suwanee
Isaiah Hugley, Columbus Consolidated Government city manager

Phil Best served as Dublin’s mayor for 22 years and his career in elected office spanned 32 years. He stepped down as mayor in July 2021. Before his election as mayor, Best served four years on the McRae City Council and four years on Dublin City Council. Best was elected president of GMA in June 2019 and led the organization and its members through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before his presidential term, Best served as first, second and third vice president, and was a member of the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System Board of Trustees. Best also served as a District President and chaired GMA’s Member Services Advisory Council, Federal Policy Council, Legislative Policy Council and Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. During Best’s tenure in Dublin city government, the city was named a City of Excellence, a Certified City of Ethics, a Plan First community by the Department of Community Affairs, a Georgia Initiative for Community Housing participant and a recipient of the 2017 Live, Work & Play Award presented by GMA and Georgia Trend Magazine.

Vince Williams has been part of Union City government since 2007, first serving as a city councilmember before his election as mayor in 2013. Williams is the outgoing president of GMA, having served since June 2020. He has led GMA and Union City with authority and confidence through the trying months of the pandemic. He will take another step as a municipal leader in November, when he becomes president of the National League of Cities.

Williams served as GMA’s first, second and third vice president before his term as GMA president. He is a member of the Association’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, COVID-19 Advisory Committee and the Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System Board of Trustees. In addition, he has served as Chair of GMA’s Legislative Policy Council, Federal Policy Council, Member Services Advisory Council and Public Safety Policy Committee. Williams has represented Union City and GMA in many capacities. He was appointed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal to the Municipal Probation Advisory Council, Georgia’s 911 Advisory Council, and the Board of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs; currently, he is vice chair of the DCA board and vice chair of the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association. Williams has received the Georgia Secretary of State’s Outstanding Citizen Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award given by President Barack Obama. He was honored as Mayor of the Year by the Georgia Minority Business Awards and as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine.

Steve Edwards has served Sugar Hill for two decades, first as a member of the Planning Commission, then getting elected to Sugar Hill City Council in 2003 and as mayor in 2014. Edwards’ passion for a close-knit, walkable community led to Sugar Hill as it is today, with the E-Center retail, restaurant and entertainment district; the Sugar Hill Bowl, an amphitheatre hosting concerts from local artists and major national touring acts; and a beautiful City Hall complex with green space and a splash pad alongside normal government functions. Edwards worked closely with councilmembers, the planning commission, downtown development authority and other stakeholders to make this $49 million dream a reality. More than 1,500 new residents and $200 million in private investment have come to Sugar Hill since this downtown transformation was completed. Sugar Hill has also been nationally recognized as one of the best places to live and raise a family.

Edwards currently serves on the GMA Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Legislative Policy Council, COVID-19 Advisory Committee and as the Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. He has previously served as a GMA District President and as a member of the Business Alliance Committee, and received his Certificate of Excellence through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute.

Jimmy Burnette has served Suwanee as mayor for 10 years and previously served as a councilmember for 16 years. A Suwanee native and son of a 32-year councilmember, Burnette has been an active leader not only in his city, but in his greater community and the state. He has displayed a clear vision for the future of Suwanee, working to incorporate public art, economic development projects and parks that reflect his city’s character. He represents Suwanee well as a board member of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, a delegation member for the Gwinnett Chamber’s Strategic Leadership Visits and a regular volunteer in local schools.

Burnette keeps Suwanee up to date with GMA’s work, including a monthly update at council workshops. He has completed 291 hours of training through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute and has earned the Certificate of Dedication, the institute’s highest certificate level. Burnette has served on the GMA Board of Directors, served on and chaired the Municipal Training Board and twice served as a GMA District President. Currently, he serves on GMA’s Legislative Policy Council and Federal Policy Council and is active in promoting and protecting local control with his advocacy efforts on behalf of cities.

Isaiah Hugley has worked for Columbus Consolidated Government for 37 years, and has spent 16 years as city manager, serving four different mayors. Through his vision and service, he has helped transform a community into a destination city. He has led the way through continuous public-private partnerships on projects that have impacted quality of life and on programs that have improved services and processes. These include removing mill dams to return downtown Columbus’ stretch of the Chattahoochee River to its natural state, leading a downtown revitalization effort and increasing the miles of dedicated biking and walking trails interconnected throughout the city. Hugley has also overseen nearly 200 projects totalling more than $1 billion in value. For his work, he has been recognized with awards including the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award, presented by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Iota Lambda Chapter; the 2016 Black History Legacy Leadership Award, presented by United States Congressman Sanford D. Bishop; and the Georgia City-County Management Association’s 2015 Pillars of Professional Management Award.

Hugley serves on GMA’s Equity and Inclusion Commission, Legislative Policy Council and Workforce Development Advisory Council. He has also served as the chair of GMA’s Transportation Policy Committee and as a member of the GMA Member Services Advisory Council, Audit Committee and City Manager’s Advisory Group.

GMA is proud to welcome all five of these accomplished leaders into the Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame.

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©2019 Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine

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