SUAWNEE - Suwanee mayor Dave Williams, city council members, city staff and residents paid tribute to former mayor Nick Masino Tuesday night, ending the ceremonies with a proclamation naming the week of Jan. 28 to Feb. 1 "Nick Masino Week."
"Tonight is truly special ... I know of very few mayors who have had such a positive impact on the community," Williams said.
As Williams began his speech, Darth Vader and two storm troopers (characters from the "Star Wars" movies) entered the council chambers to officially kick off the festivities. "I'm a total Star Wars geek," Masino said, asking one of the troopers if he could hold the gun.
Once the humorous scene with the Star Wars characters ended, Williams reminisced about Masino's entry into Suwanee politics on the Board of Appeals. "His desire to be the best has fueled the Suwanee machine," Williams said, referring to the more than 36 distinctions the city has earned since Masino was sworn in to the office of mayor in 1999 at the age of 29.
The passing of the 2001 Open Space Bond Referendum was a turning point for the city, as several council members, Williams and others noted during the tribute. Five city parks, acres of greenspace and the Suwanee Creek Greenway all stem from that first act by Masino, council members and Suwanee voters.
City staff members presented Masino with a framed rubbing taken from the obelisk that now stands in Town Center park in Suwanee. The text commemorates the passing of that bond referendum and what it meant for Suwanee residents.
Masino's family was also honored Tuesday night. His wife, Suzanne, has been responsible "for keeping the family going at home," said the former mayor, while Masino, council members and city staff worked long hours on projects. The three Masino children and the former mayor's parents were also recognized during the tribute.
The list of city movers and shakers who spoke the praises of the young former mayor included John Green, principal of North Gwinnett High School, former Suwanee mayor Richard Trice and former council member Alan Landers.
Masino did not run for re-election for the office of mayor, as he has accepted a position with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Masino will bring his political, sales and marketing skills to that organization as vice president of economic development.
"I'm not sad. I'm not going anywhere," Masino said about not running for re-election. "I'm excited about this new thing with the Chamber. I can't think of a better job for me."