GMA Annual Convention: Esteemed Leaders Inducted into the Georgia Municipal Government Hall of Fame

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

On Aug. 9th, five city leaders were inducted into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame, which was established in 1992 to recognize current and past municipal officials who exemplify the very best in public service and who, throughout their careers, have made extraordinary contributions to municipal government, and have been strong supporters of GMA.

Former GMA President and Former Dublin Mayor Phil Best

Best served 32 years as an elected city official, including the past 22 years as mayor. Prior to his election as mayor, he served six years on the Dublin City Council and four years on the McRae City Council before moving to Dublin.

Best was elected as GMA President during the association’s Annual Convention in June 2019 and worked to advocate for and serve Georgia’s cities through his leadership positions with GMA. He was a member of the association’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, a District President and served on the Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System Board of Trustees and several other committees.

Under Best’s leadership, the city of Dublin 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.

Best has served as a member of the Laurens County Board of Health and Community Mental Health Board for the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority and is a Leadership Georgia graduate.

Best was appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue to the Workforce Development Council and the President’s Advisory Council for Middle Georgia State University. In 2018, the Georgia Chapter of the American Public Works Association named Mayor Best the Elected Official of the Year.

Former GMA President and Union City Mayor Vince Williams

Williams was first elected to the City Council of Union City in 2007, where he served until taking office as mayor of Union City in 2013. Within GMA, Williams works tirelessly to promote the interests of cities and has been a significant leader. He was elected GMA president in June of 2020, following terms as first, second and third vice president. Williams has served or is currently serving on several of the association’s leadership bodies including, the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, COVID-19 Advisory Committee and the Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System Board of Trustees.

During Williams’ time in Union City, he has strived to increase consensus, cooperation and partnership.

His successful leadership in Union City has not gone unnoticed, as Williams has been called on to serve in numerous leadership roles throughout metro Atlanta, the state of Georgia and beyond.

On the federal level, Williams currently serves as the first vice president of the National League of Cities (NLC) and is scheduled to take the reins as NLC president in November. He will become only the fifth municipal official from Georgia to serve as NLC president and the first since 1994.

Williams is a recipient of the Outstanding Citizen Award given by the Georgia Secretary of State and the President’s Volunteer Service Award given by President Barack Obama. He was awarded Mayor of the Year by the Georgia Minority Business Awards, and Georgia Trend magazine has honored him as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians.

Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards

Following terms on his city’s planning commission and as a councilmember, Steve Edwards was elected mayor of Sugar Hill.

With a passion to build a walkable, thriving, close-knit community, Edwards helped create a solid policy foundation with a clear and concise vision and most importantly, he provided the private sector clarity for their investment decisions. Edwards worked with community partners to build the $49 million Sugar Hill downtown district from the ground up. The area is home to a variety of office tenants, retail shops and restaurants, as well as a theatre and a two-story community gymnasium that has over 13,000 active members.

Edwards worked closely with the city staff and city council to turn the city’s outdoor amphitheater into the city’s concert venue, where Grammy-winning artists and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees come to perform.

Edwards serves as a mentor to the youth in the community and is a graduate of his county’s leadership program as well as the Regional Leadership Institute.

In addition to his leadership in his community, Edwards also makes time to give back to GMA. He currently serves on GMA’s Legislative Policy Council and COVID-19 Advisory Committee, and has previously served on the GMA Executive Committee, Board of Directors and as chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee.

He has served as a GMA District President and as a member of the Business Alliance Committee. Edwards has also received his Certificate of Excellence through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute.

Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette

Born and raised in the city where he now serves, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette is in his third term as mayor, having previously served on the city council.

Suwanee is often visited and modeled for quality of life, innovation and standard of excellence. Burnette’s influence, and impact is evident in everything from economic development, to infrastructure, from parks to public art and from the city’s history to the innovative approach to placemaking and community development.

The mayor’s commitment to leadership in his community does not stop at the city limits. Since 2013 he has served as chair of a public funding entity in his county and as a board member of the Clean and Beautiful program in his county.

Each year, Burnette participates as a delegation member for the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce’s Strategic Leadership Visits, and he is often chosen by his peers in the 16 cities within his county to represent them on the county and state levels.

A true champion for GMA, Burnette added an agenda item to monthly council workshops to keep the council informed of GMA activity. He encourages council and city leaders from all over the state to take advantage of opportunities for growth through GMA.

In addition to serving on several GMA leadership bodies, Burnette has completed 291 hours of training through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute and earned the Certificate of Dedication, the tr