Three Rivers Republican Club elects new officers

By Ken Lay

Knox County’s Republican Party has a new chairman. But he is a familiar face.

Buddy Burkhardt was named chairman recently and he’s promising to return the party to the grassroots.

“My vacation is over and I’m back,” Burkhardt said at a meeting of the newly formed Three Rivers Country Club at Marbledale Baptist Church in Strawberry Plains. “I want to make sure to welcome our neighbors who are new to the state.

“We are going to be nice but we’re going to be firm. I’m here for the people and I want to take us, take the party back to its grassroots, to the people who made the state red.”

Burkhardt returns to the role of chairman of the Knox County Republican Party, a position that he’s held before.

He promised to be transparent and noted that the county’s Republican Party hasn’t been that way under the previous leadership of Daniel Herrera and Randy Pace, who often held private meetings.

“We have so many things going on and I want to know about them,” Burkhardt said. “I want you to come and tell us about your events in the community and your church events.”

Burkhardt has already begun to make good on his promises. He gave his personal cell phone number to those in attendance at the meeting of the newly formed club that merges the clubs in Knox County’s eighth and ninth districts. District 8 includes the Corryton and Strawberry Plains communities while District 9 is in South Knoxville and South Knox County.

The two clubs joined forces to become more efficient.

Burkhardt, who aspires to be the face of the county’s Republican Party as he was during his previous tenure as the party’s chairman, began his career toiling in obscurity.

“When I first started, I was anonymous,” he said. “I went around hanging signs.”

Then, he did an interview with a one-time community newspaper publisher.

“She wanted to do an article on me and she called me the Sign Man,” Burkhardt said. “After that, I wasn’t anonymous anymore.

“But I never put up as many signs as you all have.”

The Three Rivers Country Club also reorganized at Tuesday night’s meeting as it installed new officers.

Chuck Frazier was sworn in as the club’s new president. Mike Brown is now vice president. Mark Mugford is the new secretary and John Marshall is now treasurer.

Like Burkhardt, Frazier stressed the importance of giving the party back to the people.

“I grew up coming here and learning how to be a Republican and learning how to be conservative,” said Frazier, who received the gavel from outgoing club president J. Alan Branch. “I see the people here and I want to bring in more people and I want to bring in some younger people.”

Frazier welcomes Republicans to the new club and he promised to be honest.

“I’m not fancy. I’ve never been fancy and I don’t plan on becoming fancy,” he said. “But I’ll tell you the truth. If you need something, come to me and if I need something, I’ll certainly come to you.

“I want to hear about your community events and your church events.”