Our elected and governmental leaders are always in the spotlight – but never more so now than in times of challenge and change. This year, with a focus on attracting new employers, improving county services and managing the challenges of a sluggish economy, two of our community leaders stand out: Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson and Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash. These two leaders have put a strong emphasis on improving operations that make for a superior quality of life in our community. Gwinnett Magazine is proud to add the title of Man and Woman of the Year to these two charismatic individuals’ list of accomplishments.
Man of the Year:
Mayor, City of Norcross
Even in a challenging economy, the City of Norcross has had one great year. With a surge in economic development, three major corporations – FedEx Ground, Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc. and RockTenn – have brought their business to Norcross, sparking one of the biggest employment boosts for the state. Great leadership is one contributing factor to the ever-growing list of accomplishments for this city. The man of the hour, Mayor Bucky Johnson, has worked both within Norcross and with county officials to ensure his city’s continued success.
“The county and the cities are working together on a number of different issues that will be helpful and beneficial to all of our citizens,” he says.
Johnson has also contributed his time to the Atlanta Regional Roundtable as chairman. This year, he’s worked specifically on the Transportation Investment Act, a proposed regional penny sales tax for transportation projects that metro Atlanta residents will be voting on in 2012. The roundtable worked through the summer and fall months to draft a list of transportation projects that could be funded with the sales tax over a 10-year period. These projects include roads, bridges, transit, bus service, sidewalks, bike paths and more.
“There was a string of decisions on how to get people involved, working together and accomplishing goals involving the Transportation Investment Act. I was working with 20 other elected officials – 11 of them were higher ranked than I in terms of an elected position,” he says. One of Johnson’s greatest accomplishments in this position was getting a unanimous vote from both the executive committee and full roundtable on the draft and final regional transportation project list. “If we couldn’t have agreed on this list, it wouldn’t have gone to voters and there wouldn’t be an opportunity to improve transportation both in the Atlanta region and throughout our communities.”
So with this regional outlook, what’s great about working in Gwinnett? “I love just about everything about working in Gwinnett…There are so many things and people that are excellent in Gwinnett, you hope just some of that rubs off on you.”
Woman of the Year:
Chairman, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash’s list of accomplishments this year is both lengthy and impressive. From Gwinnett County Government’s budget to the recently passed land acquisition policy, Nash has contributed much to our community for only being in elected office for less than a year.
However, in the chairman’s eyes, her greatest accomplishment to date is one she achieved prior to stepping foot into the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners office. “Running in my first race for elected office with three other individuals and managing – with a lot of help from dedicated supporters and volunteers – to successfully get elected without needing a run off. This is a big accomplishment in my mind considering I was a total novice at running for political office,” she says. This past spring, Nash secured more than 55 percent of total votes to emerge as commission chairman.
Motivated to make a change in local government, Nash entered her post with some tough challenges ahead. One of the first orders of business was the financial deficit that remained in the fiscal year 2011 budget. “Gwinnett County’s budget started off with a $38 million deficit this year and over the course of all of us working together, we’ve managed to erase that deficit and balance the 2011 budget. This led us to not only prevent an increase in the mileage rate, but actually reduce the mileage rate for 2011,” she recalls.
Another issue in the forefront was tackling head-on the land acquisition process. With honesty and integrity top of mind, Nash, along with the rest of the board, adopted a new policy that requires strict procedures for acquiring land, addressing the Special Grand Jury criticism reported last year. “I think that it’s going to bear fruit for us going forward in terms of thoughtfulness in which we will be acting on land acquisition items.” Next, Nash hopes to pass a revision to the county ethics ordinance, which will manage the ethics of local elected officials.
All in all, Nash is proud, honored and humbled to be in her position in the county that she calls home. “My husband and I know that we’re very fortunate to have been able to live and prosper in Gwinnett. It’s very satisfying to feel like I can give back just a little bit in gratitude for what Gwinnett has done for us.”