CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: FLETCHER BURKHARDT FOR KNOXVILLE, TN MAYORAL RACE
What initially got you interested in politics? When was this?
When I was 17 years old I realized how much Knoxville meant to me. I thought long and hard about how I could make positive change and make Knoxville a place all people would want to be. I began to dream of the day I could be the mayor of my favorite place on earth, Knoxville. I took a year off between high school and college debating what I was going to do, all while making multiple trips to the gulf coast to help repair the damages from hurricane Ivan and Katrina. While there I realized that being the Mayor of Knoxville was what I wanted to do and began to look at colleges to start my studies of government, economy, and politics in general. I ended up getting into MTSU and declared my major before my first day of classes, Political Science with minors in Psychology & Religious Studies. I felt these were the best options to broaden my horizons, thought processing, and self awareness. On top of that, these molded me and my ability to listen and communicate.
Tell us about your campaign. What office are you a candidate for?
I am a candidate for Mayor of the city of Knoxville, Tn. My campaign is being exactly as I believe the government should run, smart, efficient, and innovative. I am doing things much differently than your traditional campaign, relying heavily on social media, resorting to business cards rather than literature (greener, but also I feel that literature falls under wasteful spending). There are multiple ways to get a message across and I truly believe the amount of wasteful spending in campaigns is unacceptable. That money can be used to make changes within a community and overall make a much greater impact. Not to say I am not fundraising for this campaign, I am. If someone donates, they know it is not being wasted. It is being used efficiently. On top of that, since I have been an advocate for local business, for as long as I can remember, I am working with multiple local businesses who are contributing in kind donations and championing the campaign. We are looking to raise 5000-7500$ in June. This will go to another shirt order, Yard signs, and another run of koozies. We will also be running social media ads and doing a campaign video this month that will run on social media platforms.
If elected, what would be the first thing you want to accomplish?
I would say there are three things I really want to do first, which they can all be linked with each other. First, I want to cut spending. I believe the government currently over spends. Since I believe taxation is theft, I want to ensure that I will not have to raise taxes and allow all individuals in our city to spend their own money as they choose. Secondly, I want to begin to come up with ways to create revenue. Which one of the ways I would like to do this is lower, or do away with our entertainment tax. This is preventing an incredible stream of revenue from tv, movies, and musical artists from coming to our city and investing in our local economy. Lastly, I believe Knoxville lacks marketing, branding, and strategy. We talk often about wanting to bring in jobs, business, and retain talent, yet we aren’t stepping up, when the cities surrounding us are.
Which of the former U.S. presidents is your favorite?
I honestly can’t pick a favorite, there are multiples presidents that I really did like. If I had to pick just one, I think it would be JFK. He was quoted saying, “Let us not seek the republican answer or the democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” This quote has been something I hold very near and dear as I believe working together gets a whole lot more done than further polarization.
Are you affiliated with a political party? Why or why not?
I am not registered with any political party, but am a self declared libertarian. I have also been called a constitutionalist. I believe I received that distinction by my outspokenness of it being the government’s responsibility to ensure that everyone has equal rights, that every has the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. As for the why, honestly there isn’t much of a reason and will most likely register soon.
What intrigues you about local politics?
The main thing that intrigues me is how much of a positive impact you can make at the local level. The idea that at the local level you can build community, work so directly with the communities you govern, and be a voice. These are things that intrigue me the most.
If you could change one thing in politics, without any opposition, what would you change?
This is a tough one. I think getting rid of taxes, gentrification, or nepotism is my first thought, but there are a lot of things I am not a fan of when it comes to politics as we know it.