Fletcher Burkhardt is running for Mayor of Knoxville.
My name is Fletcher “Knoxville” Burkhardt. I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. I grew up in northwest Knoxville in the Inskip community.
When I was 17 I knew that I wanted to be the mayor of our city. I wanted to be the mayor to make Knoxville a better version of itself every single day. I decided to attend MTSU where I got a major in political science and a double minor in psychology and religious studies. While in college I was a Young Life Leader at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro and played rugby for MTSU.
I am running a campaign centered around People Over Politics, my campaign slogan. We need a government that makes Knoxville better for all people. We need a government that listens.
I believe being elected mayor is the start of a relationship. If our mayor isn’t communicating, the relationship fails. This is why I have promised to have monthly community meetings, to keep listening. We need a government that is accessible to all people.
I have also said that I want to explore a couple days of the week changing the hours of our government. We need a government that is accessible to all and working class people shouldn’t have to take a day away from work to access it.
Who are you and what brought you into this race?
I want to make Knoxville a better version of itself every single day, to bring in revenue so we have the money to address the cyclical problems our city is facing, and to make Knoxville the blueprint for the modern southeast, meaning that I want to make Knoxville the city others begin to contact to find solutions to their problems.
How do you feel about Recode Knoxville, both as a concept for overhauling the city’s zoning code and its handling by the current administration?
First and foremost, I do not support recode. The process has been extremely flawed and has caused our community to lose trust. I believe that recode is a one size fits all for an extremely diverse and inclusive city.
We keep hearing how good it is for everyone and how that has been communicated. If that is the case we should allow this to be voted on by our city.
Our communities deserve to have a voice in this process.
What should the Knoxville Police Department do to balance the needs of keeping the community safe without serving as an overbearing presence in communities?
Community policing is a wonderful model that Knoxville could benefit from. We need to create relationships between our officers and communities.
Share your plan for addressing homelessness beyond the efforts which have already been tried?
I have been looking at tons of ways we can address this cyclical problem. Housing first is extremely important, but purpose and community can change lives. I’d love to work with non profits like Mobile Fish and Loaves. They are doing incredible work and provide opportunity to the homeless population, as well as housing.
I have also been looking at the model Albuquerque and Fort Worth are using where the city begins to hire parts of the homeless community to pick up trash and pull weeds. Not only does this give a job, but purpose. It gives people a reason to wake up in the morning.
We have been doing the same things over and over, but they aren’t working. We need to get innovative with how we are addressing these issues. The “usual” hasn’t been working.
Would you ever support a property tax increase?
What is your vision for the City of Knoxville in the 4 / 8 years ahead?
Knoxville is one of the greatest cities in the country. I want others to know. I want our city to draw a portion of the 11.3 million people heading to The Smokies off the interstate to invigorate our local economy. We need to create a marketing plan, strategy, and brand to do this.
I want our city to be much more efficient and fiscally responsible. I want to end the sending of our city’s money to other metropolitans, from Seattle based artists doing art projects here, to constantly hiring outside companies to come in and do the work we have the talent for in Knoxville. This has to end. The entertainment tax has to go.
We need to bring entertainment back to our city. Losing events like Boomsday and Sundown in the City are unacceptable.
Lastly, I want us to begin to shift how we address issues like affordable housing, rising KUB fees, and homelessness. These issues are talked about, but only getting worse.
I think I’m 4/8 years we can make a huge difference. In 4/8 years I want us to have other cities turning to Knoxville for solutions to their issues. I believe we can do these things in that time frame.