Charlotte Burks

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Charlotte Burks
Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 15th district
In office
Preceded by Tommy Burks
Succeeded by Paul Bailey
Personal details
Born (1942-10-03) October 3, 1942 (age 74)
Gainesboro, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) widowed - Tommy Burks
Occupation farmer

Charlotte Gentry Burks (born October 3, 1942) is a farmer and Democratic party politician in Tennessee who represented the 15th District as State Senator from 1998 until 2015.

Burks was born in 1942 in Gainesboro, Tennessee, and lives in Monterey, Tennessee.[1][2] She was married to Tommy Burks, a Tennessee State Senator. They had three children together one of whom is former Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock. She also has 11 grandchildren[2] In 1998, after her husband was assassinated during an election campaign by his Republican challenger Byron "Low-Tax" Looper, she became a write-in candidate for his seat. Although she did not campaign, she defeated Looper by a landslide margin,[3] receiving 95% of the vote[4] and becoming the first write-in candidate to win a seat in the Tennessee State Senate. She began her Senate service with the 101st General Assembly.

She was reelected in 2002 and 2006 with no substantive opposition.[citation needed] In 2010, when Republicans picked up many seats in the General Assembly, Burks won re-election to a fourth four-year term by a margin of just 183 votes over her Republican opponent, Gary Steakley.[3] Burks carried five of the six counties in the largely rural district, losing only in Cumberland County. An independent candidate placed third in the vote.[3] Steakley challenged the results, claiming irregularities on election day, but a State Senate committee found that there was insufficient evidence to question the outcome.[5][6]

In the Senate, Burks served as the secretary of the education committee; as a member of the joint study economic development; government operations; select on children and youth; and the environment, conservation, and tourism committees. On September 8, 2013 she announced her retirement and that she would not run for reelection to the State Senate in 2014.[7] On Election Day, the Republican candidate won the seat.[8]


  1. ^ "About Charlotte". Re-Elect Charlotte Burks (website). Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Senator Charlotte Burks - District 15, Tennessee General Assembly website, accessed May 15, 2011
  3. ^ a b c Mary Jo Denton, Burks re-elected to senate seat, Herald-Citizen (Cookeville, Tennessee), November 2010. Accessed May 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Associated Press, Widow wins Tenn. Senate seat over man charged with killing her husband, November 4, 1998
  5. ^ Chas Sisk Committee upholds Charlotte Burks’ re-election, In Session section of The Tennessean website, April 28, 2011
  6. ^ Liz Engel Clark, Election contest bends in Burks' favor, Herald Citizen (Cookeville, Tennessee), May 1, 2011
  7. ^ Staff reporter (September 9, 2013). "Charlotte Burks Announces Retirement From Senate". WJLE. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ Farmer, Blake (November 5, 2014). "Tennessee’s Republican Supermajority Gets Even Bigger". WPLN. Retrieved December 23, 2015. State Rep. Paul Bailey easily won the seat of retiring Sen. Charlotte Burks of Monterey, north of Cookeville. 

External links[edit]

Tennessee Senate
Preceded by
Tommy Burks
Member from the 15th district
Succeeded by
Paul Bailey