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Remembering a Bridge Builder: Frankie Burnett

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Former Brooksville City Councilman and Mayor Frankie Burnett passed away on Friday, February 19, 2021.  He was 65.  

Frankie last ran for a seat on the council in 2018, using “People Over Politics” as his campaign slogan. He lost to current Mayor Pat Brayton by just 215 votes. In 2016, he wrote to the Hernando Sun, “I am a servant. It is who I am, this is a part of my DNA. I am a positive leader and will continue to think progressively for Brooksville. I will continue to advocate for participatory democracy that seeks the inclusion of many and diverse constituents. I will continue to support the South Brooksville Vision Plan. It has been amazing and humbling to see so many volunteers through the Brooksville Vision Foundation… and now the new Main Street Program, step forward to donate time, money, and themselves because they care and are committed to Brooksville. I join them in building a prosperous future. I will continue to support all their efforts that are made selflessly because we believe in building a better tomorrow for our city. I will continue to represent those I serve and not my own self-serving ideas. I will always believe in People Over Politics.”

Burnett served the City of Brooksville for 10 years, including two years as mayor and three years as vice-mayor. In a 2016 resolution by the city upon his departure, Burnett was praised for his devotion to the City, and for making thoughtful decisions that benefited its citizens and businesses. (Dec. 2016- Hernando Sun)

While in office, Burnett was instrumental in changing a portion of Union Street in Brooksville to Muhammad Ali Way and suggested naming the field at Tom Varn Park after coach Ernie Chatman.

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Mike Walker, the city’s former Parks and Recreation Director, stated, “It was an honor to work under his Leadership when he served as Mayor and a Council Member. He will be Missed!! We Love You Mr. Frankie Burnett!! Thank you for your support personally and your service to the children and families of the city of Brooksville.”

Burnett, a Brooksville native, and pastor has been described as a community champion and a bridge builder.  His Southern Baptist faith and love for God propelled his work in the community.

Upon learning of his passing, Jenn Vacha remarked, “I am very sad – we lost one of the best community “bridge builders” this morning (Friday, 19 February). In this incredibly crazy world— we could really use more builders like Mayor Frankie Burnett that:

* work to pull people together – not apart;

* want to create a better place for all – not something more for themselves; and

* show more Jesus— and less of their self.”

Then she suggested the following, 

“Perhaps, in his honor, we could each pledge to find a way to extend a hand — a heart — & build, instead of this new-normal of undying biting, judgment and destruction.”

Frankie Burnett who graduated from Hernando High in 1973 was recently celebrated by the  Black Coalition of Hernando County, Brooksville Main Street and Florida’s Adventure Coast.  They recognized many of Burnett’s achievements including:

President CEO of South Brooksville Economic Development Commission

Contract Manager for Mid-Florida Community Services

Service on the South Brooksville Task Force

Second African American to serve on Brooksville City Council

While in office he oversaw the largest infrastructure overhaul in 90 years while reducing per capita spending by 19 percent.

Served as a member and president of the Hernando County NAACP (1990’s and early 2000’s). During this time he was well known for his re-enactment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hosted a Christmas Giveaway for 46 years

“Infamous for his fried and smoked turkeys” that he would give away during the holidays

Current city councilmember Blake Bell commented, “I was sad to hear this morning about the passing of Mayor Frankie Burnett.

“I spent many hours visiting with Mayor Burnett in his home. During those visits, Mayor Burnett gave me sage advice—to focus on the big picture rather than small ideas, to always represent every resident of Brooksville and to pray often. He stressed that a relationship with God and family is the most important in life.

“He will be remembered fondly for his dedication to Brooksville, to those he helped in need and to those he loved.

“I will miss his scripture filled text messages lifting us up daily, his story telling, encouragement and friendship.

“Mayor Burnett will be a missed voice in our community but his legacy will live on in the many, many lives he touched along the way.”


Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio has experience in art, graphic arts, web design and development. She also has a strong scientific background, co-authoring a scientific paper on modeling the migration and population dynamics of the monarch butterfly, while attending the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute at Cornell University. She holds a B.A. from New College of Florida, majoring in Biology.
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