Local attorney faces incumbent in school board race
Brusven, Truesdell in race for Position 1
Position 1 is among four contested seats in this spring’s Tonganoxie USD 464 election.
Incumbent Diane Truesdell faces challenger Amelia Brusven in the race.
Here’s a closer look at both candidates.
With two children in the Tonganoxie school district, Brusven is involved in school activities.
She hopes to continue that involvement as board member.
“I decided to run for school board because our district is at a crossroads and I want to help move us forward,” Brusven said. “With a new elementary school set to open this year, evolving curriculum standards and unprecedented budget cuts, I feel that it is essential we elect board members who listen first, research the issues and provide thoughtful, reasoned decisions.
“Our district is facing significant budget challenges and I want to work together with the board to make meaningful determinations that limit the impact of these funding cuts on students and student services. Our children are our most precious resource and an investment in our students is an investment in the future of Tonganoxie.”
Originally from Topeka, Brusven graduated from Seaman High School and was given an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., but declined to attend Kansas University.
At KU, she played on the women’s basketball and track teams.
She helped the Jayhawks to a 1993 Big Eight Tournament Championship win and a berth in the NCAA basketball tournament. In addition, she was invited to train for the women’s heptathlon at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She also was an eight-time Jayhawk scholar and member of the Phillips 66 Academic All-Big Eight.
Brusven earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from KU and later a doctorate from Washburn University School of Law.
She started practicing law in 2001 and currently is serving as general counsel for the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas and the Golden Eagle Casino.
As part of her duties, Brusven advocates for the Tribe and tribal interests at the local, state and federal levels. She also represents the Kickapoo Nation School Board, the only K-12 tribal academic institution in Kansas, which she said has helped her “become aware of some of the particular challenges that face educational institutions.”
She said she also enjoys working as a team in a positive, respectful way to find solutions to many difficult and intense issues.
“I am willing to listen to the ideas and opinions of the community, fellow board members and staff and will be open and honest while not being afraid to challenge others if I believe it’s in the best interests of the school to do so,” Brusven said.
And, she thinks all of her experiences can be an asset if elected.
“I believe I would be a good fit for the board because I care about the outcomes and I believe in quality public education,” Brusven said. “I have children in the district and I want Tonganoxie students to have the best educational experiences possible.”
Brusven and her husband Jeff have two children: Morgan, a sixth-grader at Tonganoxie Middle School, and Colton, a third-grader at Tonganoxie Elementary School.
It’s been several years since Diane Truesdell joined the Tonganoxie School Board.
The board appointed her in 2006 when the Rev. Rick Lamb left his seat and moved to Texas.
Originally from Kenmore, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo, Truesdell moved to the area in 1979 with a friend who was looking for a change.
She attended State University of New York College at Buffalo before coming to Kansas.
“I met Jim in 1982 and the rest is history,” Truesdell said, referring to her husband, who serves on the Tonganoxie City Council.
Truesdell said she had been contemplating running for another term, but with the filing deadline looming, she decided to purse another term.
“I just didn’t feel it was fair to a new superintendent to have an incomplete board,” Truesdell said.
Brusven, though, filed just before the deadline, so all races are contested.
“I’m pleased to see an increased interest in board candidates,” Truesdell said.
She’s also happy with what’s been accomplished in the district while she’s been on the board, most recently the building of a new elementary school set to open in the summer.
“I’m proud that we got that bond issue passed and that we are getting a new school,” Truesdell said.
But with excitement comes concern.
Many in education are critical of the Legislature’s overhaul of school funding.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m looking forward to it, but it will be a challenging time for decisions with the changes being discussed in Topeka,” Truesdell said.
She said there are some at the Statehouse who favor local control, but Truesdell said local control is difficult when funding is cut.
“There’s just such changes coming ahead from Topeka,” she said. “They talk like they don’t want the government in different things, but it seems to be coming more and more in the schools.”
The Truesdells have three children, Tyler, 26; Lindsey, 21; and Keaton, 19.
Lindsey and Keaton both attend Kansas State University.
Truesdell has volunteered for about 14 years at the school district’s volunteer center.