CHARLOTTE — Nine days after resigning her position on city council, and two days after her son was appointed to finish her unexpired term, former City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess has passed away.

Susan Burgess

Burgess, 64, had been under hospice care and confined to her bed with terminal cancer. She had surgery for colorectal cancer in 2007. She passed away Wednesday morning.

First elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in 1990, Burgess, a Democrat, served there until 1997. She was chair of the board from 1995-1997. She was first elected to city council in 1999 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2001. She returned to the council in 2003, where she served until her resignation on June 7.

She is survived by her husband, four children and six grandchildren.

Burgess’ son, Jason, was appointed by council to finish her unexpired term Monday. He was among 24 applicants for the position, including former city council candidate Owen Sutkowski (see “Gay man seeks to replace Burgess on Charlotte council” and “Sutkowski: I want to bring community voices to the table”).

Throughout her tenure as a Queen City elected official, Burgess was often a friend to the LGBT community.

After she announced her resignation, some LGBT leaders sent Burgess letters and statements of thanks. Several current and former members of the Pride Charlotte Task Force/Committee signed a letter thanking the city’s former second-in-command for her support of the event and the LGBT community.

“As members, both past and present, of the Pride Charlotte Committee we would like express our heartfelt appreciation for your unwavering support of Pride Charlotte and the Charlotte area LGBT community,” the letter, written by former co-chair Raine Cole, said. “By speaking at our festival or just writing a letter of welcome, your enthusiastic participation demonstrated to us that we had a very special friend in you.”

The letter continued: “Thank you for supporting our event and our community when others in local government would not. Thank you for caring enough to take time out from your busy schedule to celebrate with us. Most of all thank you for being our friend.”

Burgess often attended many LGBT community events, including Pride Charlotte. When Mayor Pat McCrory refused to issue letters of welcome to Pride or other events, such as the annual Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala, Burgess stepped in and provided a friendly face and official welcome mat from the city.

The letter to Burgess, dated June 7, was signed by Cole, Jeff Schmehl, Michael Curtis, John Quillin, Toryn Stark, Michael Woods, Jonathan Hill, Hugh Hammond, Darryl Hall, Riley Murray, Su Cummings and Frank Stewart. This writer and qnotes publisher Jim Yarbrough, both former members of the Pride Charlotte Task Force, were also signatories.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

2 replies on “Former Charlotte councilmember Susan Burgess passes away”

  1. Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) also recently sent a statement of thanks to Susan for her friendship to the LGBT community. MeckPAC endorsed Burgess in her election to City Council and worked closely with her over the years on issues of LGBT equality. Susan fully supported the recent addition of sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy for city employees.

  2. May the Burgess family find comfort during this time of great loss. Susans fight with cancer only shows her strength. I will say this, I’m appalled at the whinny comments members of political and school councils made in reference to not always agreeing with Susan. It is individuals like Susan that make a difference. True leaders make hard calls and don’t bend to their peers for popularity. I’d say she had to hold the ‘strongest’ seat above all of them. God Bless you in your journey Susan.

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