Sen. Burks honored for service to community - WSMV Channel 4

Sen. Burks honored for service to community

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State Sen. Charlotte Burks State Sen. Charlotte Burks
COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It's a job Charlotte Burks never expected to hold.

When a political rival shot and killed her husband, state Senator Tommy Burks, she decided to run for his office.

After nearly 16 years of service, Sen. Charlotte Burks is ready for something different.

Charlotte Burks said she never expected to hold a seat at the state Capitol. It was her husband who was the politician.

Charlotte Burks said that in the end, coming to work at the Capitol probably helped her heal from her husband's death.

Friends held a reception for Burks on Thursday to celebrate her public service.

"I don't want to wait before I get too old before I can enjoy being on my farm," said Charlotte Burks.

Charlotte Burks heard the words that changed her life 15 years ago next week. Her husband, Tommy Burks, had been shot on their Monterey farm.

"The boy that works on the place found him," said Charlotte Burks.

At the time, Tommy Burks was running for re-election against Byron Looper, who was convicted of killing his political rival.

After her husband's death, Charlotte Burks launched a write-in campaign against Looper.

"The only thing I was thinking about then was if someone else didn't get on the ballot that we would have his opponent be elected, and that wasn't an option," said Charlotte Burks.

The voters of the district agreed, as Charlotte Burks won despite not being on the ballot.

Looper received a life sentence for killing Tommy Burks. Looper died in prison last June at the age of 48.

While Looper spent his remaining years behind bars, Sen. Charlotte Burks continued the work her husband started.

"He worked on children's issues, on domestic violence, on crime and on drugs," said Charlotte Burks. "More of the small things that matter, not the big things that make headlines. I tried to do the same thing."

Burks admitted she didn't know if she's win another term after winning the write-in campaign. She went on to win three more four-year terms.

Even on the day of celebration of all that she's done, Charlotte Burks said she still wishes it was her husband that was receiving the thank yous.

"Maybe he's here in spirit, but I wish this could have been his day," said Charlotte Burks.

For more than two decades, one of the Burks has held the District 15 senate seat. That legacy will come to an end when Sen. Charlotte Burks' term ends after next year's legislative session.

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