This campaign is about you: my family, friends, and neighbors in the Brookland District of Henrico County. Though I won’t bore you with a long self-aggrandizing autobiography, I do want you to know a few things about me.
In many ways, my political journey reflects the transformation of the Brookland District. Growing up, ours was a reliably conservative Republican household. But, with time and wisdom I gained a new perspective and a greater understanding that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. These are the values of America’s Democratic Party, these are the values of the Brookland community, and these are the values that have inspired me to stand up for the overlooked, left out, and underserved.
My roots run deep in this county. The Burkarths moved to Henrico more than 60 years ago when my grandpa was transferred here with his employer, Reynolds Metals. We’ve been here ever since. I was born in Tidewater or Hampton Roads or Coastal Virginia – whatever they call it these days. Please don’t hold that against me. When I was just a baby, my mom and dad moved to Glen Allen and purchased a house near Crump Park. For almost 40 years, I’ve called Brookland home.
I am a graduate of Henrico County Public Schools, having attended Dumbarton Elementary School, Glen Allen Elementary School, Brookland Middle School, the Henrico High School specialty center, and my beloved Hermitage High School.
According to folklore, I was the Justin Verlander of t-ball when I played little league at Jack Bourne Park for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association. I’ve explored every inch of Meadow Farm, learned to swim at the Glen Allen Community Center, skateboarded at Laurel Park, performed at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and traveled the historic Mountain Road corridor countless times making a splash in every creek along the way.
I took classes at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science, arguably the finest academic program offered by any institution of higher learning in the Milky Way Galaxy. I am a proud supporter of the VCU Rams and a member of the VCU Alumni Association.
My very first job was bagging groceries at the old Ukrop’s Supermarket at Fountain Square on Broad Street. I made extra money by mowing lawns, raking leaves, and walking dogs all throughout Bretton Woods, Tall Timbers, and a host of other neighborhoods along Staples Mill Road.
For 12 years, I proudly served as a state government employee in a variety of fields: economic development, tourism marketing, and disability services. Now, I’m thrilled to be working as a community services specialist for a non-profit civil rights organization headquartered right here in the Brookland District.
My parents are John Burkarth, a military veteran and retired salesman, and Janice Burkarth, a retired bank employee. I also have a wonderfully supportive stepfather named Norman Russ, who mostly lives in North Carolina for reasons that have never been fully explained. I have a younger brother named Cory, who works as a civilian law enforcement professional in Orlando, Florida. He owns an amazing rescue dog named Buffalo. I much prefer the dog over my brother, but they say you can’t choose your family. As children, Cory and I had endless amounts of fun tormenting our parents and each other. We have continued that Burkarth tradition well into adulthood.
Brookland is my home and the heart of a New Henrico that is more open, inclusive, and prosperous for all. For nearly four decades, I’ve had a front-row seat as the district has blossomed into the beautiful multi-ethnic, multi-faith, and multi-cultural community that it is today. As your next Brookland supervisor, I will bring to the job a deep knowledge of our community, a love for problem solving, a commitment to public service, and a promise to do everything in my power to make Henrico an even better place to live, learn, work, and play.