August 25, 1964 |
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Tennessee,
Timothy Floyd "Tim" Burchett (born August 25, 1964) is an American Republican politician, currently the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. He previously served in Tennessee General Assembly, first in the Tennessee House of Representatives and later in the Tennessee State Senate, in which he represented Tennessee's District 7, part of Knox County. On August 5, 2010, Burchett was elected mayor of Knox County, replacing Mike Ragsdale.
Early life and education
Burchett is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was born in 1964 and attended West Hills Elementary School, Bearden Junior High School, and Bearden High School. After graduating from Bearden High School in 1982, he enrolled in the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a B.S. degree in education.
Burchett's first election to public office was in 1994, when he won a seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He served in the house for two two-year terms, from 1995 to 1998. In 1998, he was a successful candidate for a four-year term in the Tennessee State Senate, representing the 7th senatorial district. He twice won re-election to the state senate, serving a total of three four-year terms, from 1999 to 2010.
In 1999, Burchett received national media attention for sponsoring a bill to legalize the eating of roadkill, that is, wild animals killed by vehicles. He defended the proposal as a "common-sense thing" intended to prevent edible meat from being wasted. Burchett proposed the bill after being contacted by a constituent who had been penalized for giving a needy family the meat from a deer that his vehicle had accidentally hit on the highway.
Senator Burchett sponsored a bill in 2006 to make illegal "possessing, producing, manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to produce, manufacture, or distribute the active chemical ingredient in the hallucinogenic plant Salvia divinorum in the state of Tennessee." Burchett stated, "We have enough problems with illegal drugs as it is without people promoting getting high from some glorified weed that's been brought up from Mexico. The only people I’ve heard from who are opposed to making it illegal are those who are getting stoned on it." The bill was signed into law on May 19, 2006 and went into effect on July 1, 2006. Burchett originally wanted to make violations a felony offense, but the bill was amended during its passage to make it a Class A misdemeanor.
In a news report published shortly before the signing of the bill by Governor Phil Bredesen, Burchett was quoted as saying, "It's not that popular. But I'm one of those who believes in closing the barn door before the cows get out.... In certain hands, it could be very dangerous, even lethal." A store owner who had stopped selling the herb due to Burchett's bill said that he saw little point in banning salvia, "I have no idea why it's being outlawed. It's a sage. People in South America have been using it for years and years." The same report also gave the general counterargument of salvia proponents that legislation banning Salvia divinorum reflects a cultural bias, as there are fewer prohibitions on more addictive substances such as alcohol and nicotine, and questioned how effective the bill will be, pointing out that Salvia divinorum has no odor and is easy to grow, so enforcement will be difficult.
Knox County Mayor
Burchett became Knox County Mayor in September 2010, succeeding Mike Ragsdale, who left office due to term limits. Earlier that year, Burchett defeated former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison in the Republican primary and then Democrat Ezra Maize in the general election.
On February 10, 2012, Mayor Tim Burchett went on WBIR-TV and officially announced the county's first "cash mob" would be held at the Emory 5 & 10 store in South Knoxville. The cash mob gained national attention, and was mentioned in Time Magazine.
Campaign finance irregularities
An investigation into campaign finance irregularities involving Burchett's Knox County mayoral campaign fund began after the Knoxville News Sentinel published over $15,000 of discrepancies in the campaign's financial reporting. The News Sentinel assigned at the time their lead investigative reporter Mike Donila (now working at WBIR) to cover the story. The issue of campaign finance irregularities became a governmental investigative issue when independent freelance writer Pam Strickland filed a citizen complaint with the Tennessee State Ethics Board. Strickland writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel. On September 6, 2012 a "show cause" was issued by the Tennessee State Board of Ethics. The vote was 4-1. On October 23, 2012 the State Board of Ethics decided to take no action against Burchett due to the multiple corrective measures that were added in place before the meeting.
Burchett received negative media attention in November 2012 for an item he posted on Twitter. During a football game that the Tennessee Volunteers were losing, Burchett tweeted that he needed to get his nephew (a high school football player who hoped to be recruited by a university football program) "some tats and a criminal record so UT will be interested." Following public criticism of the tweet that criticized the football team of the university in his county, Burchett said: "I didn't think anyone read that stupid thing. It was probably up for about five minutes."
In June 2008, Tim Burchett married Allison Beaver in an impromptu ceremony conducted by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. This was his first marriage. Allison Burchett filed for divorce less than four years later, in April 2012, citing "irreconcilable differences"; the divorce was finalized later that year.
- Mike Donila, Burchett: 'Precise plan' needed for mayor post. Knoxnews.com, 6 August 2010. Retrieved: 6 August 2010.
- "Tennessee Senate: Tim Burchett". Tennessee Senate: 105th General Assembly (2007-2008) (website archives). Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "Mayor Tim Burchett Bio". Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Scott Barker and David Keim (August 20, 2008). "Burchett plans to run for county mayor". Knoxville News Sentinel.
- David Firestone (March 14, 1999). "Statehouse Journal; A Road-Kill Proposal Is Food for Jokesters". New York Times.
- "Senate Bill No. 3247; An Act to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4, relative to certain hallucinogenic plants" (pdf). Public Acts 2006, Chapter 700. General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. May 2006.
- Nashville Bureau Reporter (April 2006). The Senate passed (290-0) SB 3247 8 (32). Nashville Bureau.
- Siebert, Daniel. "The Legal Status of Salvia divinorum". The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
- O'Rourke, Shea (May 24, 2006). "Smoking Out - Tennessee bill bans hallucinogenic herb salvia". Memphis Flyer.
- Mike Donila (September 4, 2011). "One year in, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett says he delivered". Knoxville News Sentinel.
- Affidavit of Mayor Tim Burchett
- "Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett regrets tweet on Vols". Knoxville News Sentinel. November 10, 2012.
- "Sen. Tim Burchett ties the knot, Gov. Bredesen officiates". Knoxville, Tennessee: WATE-TV. June 17, 2008.
- "Sen. Burchett's getting hitched". Knoxville News Sentinel. April 22, 2008.
- Mike Donila (April 20, 2012). "Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's wife files for divorce". Knoxville News Sentinel.
- Jamie Satterfield (October 1, 2012). "Mayor Burchett, estranged wife reach divorce settlement". Knoxville News Sentinel.