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john disque journalistRising with the Daily Sun
A daily column by John Disque

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Good Morning East Tennessee!

I first came face to face with the mayor back in Sept at a private fund-raiser at Club LeConte. It was my third paid photography gig, so it was a big deal for me.

All of the big political people were there, and I was a bit nervous. Although I had seen them all on TV and read about all of them on the Internet I had never been face to face with any of them. Now, here I was with all of them at the same time.
My routine was to walk up as they were broken down into small groups of 3 or 4, introduce myself and ask them if I could get a picture. When the picture was taken I thanked them and moved on to the next victim.

I had taken about 50 pictures when Mayor Burchett and his wife, Allison, walked in. As he saw me approaching, he put his arm around his wife, they both smiled, and I snapped the picture. Then something unusual happened: Before I could thank him, he said, "Thank you, John."

Before this gig I had taken pictures of a lot of people, and no one had ever done that. As small as it may sound, like nothing to the reader or anyone else, it was "everything" to me. It got me through that night, it inspired me, it freed my nerves, and the Knoxville Daily Sun wound up with 122 pictures of every substantial politician in TN.

Weeks later I was invited to the mayor's office (as a photographer) by an old friend who was doing an interview. When he entered the room I held out my hand to shake hands, but he held his fist up to bump fists. No one had ever done that either.

Before the interview with the Mayor, my homeless series and documentary were mentioned. He immediately wanted to know more about it, set up a meeting, and ask me questions.

So there I am: a guy with a camera about to take pictures of an interview so the people of Knoxville can find out all about what he's doing and he's asking me what I'm doing.

There was no doubt that the guy was a little different than most politicians, but the interview convinced me that it wasn't just his personality: it was everything from his policies to his campaign to the incredible results he has shown since his time in office.

The interview was incredible. I don't think anyone could help but like the guy. After the interview he told Dean Rice (The Mayor's Deputy) what I was doing. He was also intrigued, so he and I talked as well.

A week later, November 2nd, we were driving to the Election Results Party. I asked my buddy if she thought Mayor Burchett would be there. She said "absolutely," and I mentioned that I'd really love to get a picture of him and I bumping fists. I never thought it would happen. I was just sort of talking. I was the photographer. You're not supposed to take the photographer's picture!

At some point in the night she, Dean Rice and Mayor Burchett arranged it to happen. While we were all stuck in a hallway trying to get to the room that Governor Haslam was in, Dean pulled me aside, took my camera, and told me to bump fists with the mayor. Then, of course, he snapped the picture.

tim burchett
Tim Burchett, John Disque (photo by Dean Rice)

Since then we've crossed paths many time, and I've done a lot of digging on and off the net. I've followed the mayor's trail from the time he was swore in on Sept 1, 2010 to his current severance policy and everything in between.

Since then we've crossed paths many time, and I've done a lot of digging on and off the net. I've followed the mayor's trail from the time he was swore in on Sept 1, 2010 to his current severance policy and everything in between.

It's not just his "difference." Every politician will say and act like they care about their people, but you can't argue with results. I'm convinced that we voted the right man into office.

Published January 20, 2011

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