Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

USD 497 Lawrence At-Large BOE

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Kay Emerson
    (N)

  • Kelly Jones
    (N)

  • Candidate picture

    Nate Morsches
    (N)

  • Candidate picture

    Andrew Nussbaum
    (N)

  • Candidate picture

    GR Gordon-Ross
    (N)

  • Elizabeth Stephen
    (N)

Biographical Information

What do you think is expected of as a commissioner/board member?

What role your think policy plays in the functioning of your position?

What kind of relationship should a board member or commissioner have with the community (including parents and families)?

What responsibilities do board members/commissioners have in regards to advocacy?

What are your thoughts on the proposal to change from at-large commissioners to districts and an elected Mayor?

Personal Biography To assist the advancement of the community through education, access to opportunity, and unity in the community, I am a Human Service expert with over ten years of experience in grants and volunteer management, education and career consulting. To assist the advancement of community through education, access to opportunity and unity in community, I am a Human Service expert with over ten year of experience in grants and volunteer management, education and career consulting.
Campaign Phone (785) 304-3808
Campaign Web Site http://www.votekemerson.com
Education Graduate from the University of Kansas, with a Bachelors of Art in psychological principles, In Human Services I hold a Master of Science to address the most critical needs in communities.
Community/Public Service Board Member Health Equity Advisory Board - Lawrence Health Department Commissioner City of Lawrence-Human Relation Commission Chairperson LAWRENCE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, USD #497-Parents of Color Advisory Team Advisory Committee Member COVID-19 Advisory Committee USD 497 Advisory Committee Member COVID-19 Advisory Committee USD 497
This is a question that I spend a quite bit of time asking individuals in the community. In addition to the guidelines outline by the Kansas Association of School Board, I believe I should understand the values of the community, district employees and students, and be prepared to move them forward so that ALL students are supported as they prepare for future education and/or work of their choosing.
Policy is vital to the function of a school board. To govern effectively, a person in this position should understand the importance of policy, have a willingness to investigate, and stay informed on how policy is being implemented and is affecting our school family.

In my profession, when I review policy, I first ask who does this policy benefit, and who could be harmed by this policy. Starting with asking this question first will always call to attention whose priorities are being served. Also, does the policy address an existing or potential issue, and does it improve understanding?
As a community volunteer and an education advocate with over 20 years in service to our district, I strongly assert that school board members have a duty to be connected to the community. This means much more than sporadic or episodic conversation or attending luncheons. A school board member must be actively engaged with seeking out information to discover the complexity of issues. The relationship must be fluid because to effectively lead, I must provide opportunity and access for the community to engage.

As a school board member, my goal is to ensure that every student, educator, and staff member has equitable opportunities for success in our district. This requires sharing the responsibility to secure resources to address needs. Advocacy is a tool that must be in use used to build bridges with our legislative representatives and set the parameters of the requirements that we must follow. I have experience in advocating for sound policymaking and improvement in quality education.
This question is related specifically to the current election for City Commissioner.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Personal Biography I am President and Co-Founder of RPG, Leadership Lawrence Class of 2020, and I sit on the boards of Trinity In-Home Care and the Lawrence Restaurant Association. I have four children in the school system, two of which are adopted through foster care, and one of those has special needs. I am part of an immigrant family. I am bi-racial (Half Filipino, Half White). I have worked as a Registered Nurse on the frontlines of the pandemic in the ER and ICU. I enjoy creative writing and martial arts.
Campaign Phone (785) 217-3391
Campaign Email nate@natemorsches.com
Campaign Web Site http://natemorsches.com
Education Associates Degree in Nursing from Johnson County Community College. Bachelor of Ministry from the Antioch School.
Community/Public Service I sit on the boards of Trinity In-Home Care and the Lawrence Restaurant Association. I am a regular volunteer at the College and Career Center of Douglas County.
A member of the Board of Education is to lead the direction and vision of the district in cooperation with the Superintendent. The board listens to experts in their field make presentations and give recommendations. They consider what the public has to say, as well as the staff and students of the district. With all things considered, the board votes on issues which will impact the district. It is also a public position, meaning that the people need to see the board present at important events as well as at the schools themselves serving the children.
Policy is the most obvious role for the Board of Education. Our role is to observe the laws made by legislative bodies above us and administer them to the district in a way which is consistent with our own vision for the district.
Open, honest, and public. The board member should get to know the families in the district as much as is possible and participate in the lives of the students and staff. The board should represent the district in a professional manner at public events, while also being approachable and empathetic.
Board members have a responsibility to advocate for the issues which are important to the district's community. They must fight for what's right and stand up against threats to the district's well-being. The students and staff rely on the board to create policy which is in their best interests.
I think an elected mayor, along with its new specific responsibilities, would give the mayor the ability to better take care of the city. I do not, however, think creating districts is the right move. First of all, there aren't enough candidates for every election to have a good multiplicity of choices in the number of districts which are being discussed. If there are 5 districts, in order to get a good set of candidates, you'd need maybe 5 more candidates from each district. That means, if you want to have enough candidates to weed out the bad ones, you'd need about 25 candidates. There aren't usually more than 8 or 12 in a given election on the very high end. Secondly, the commissioners would be responsible to make decisions for Lawrence as a whole, but each commissioner's accountability would lie primarily with its district. This inconsistency can cause biased decision making.
Personal Biography Son of Cheryl and Larry, both of whom are Therapists. Brother to Tim, also a teacher, and Jesse, who everyday is my daily heartbeat. Married to my love - Sansara as we foster parent a wonderful young man. I have two cats and one dog and believe in chosen family pockets here locally and around the world. My life energy comes from connecting people I love with people I love and them growing and loving together and creating more joy, connection, and belonging. #BlackLivesMatter #DisabilityJustice
Campaign Email andrewforusd497@gmail.com
Campaign Web Site http://andrewforusd497.com
Education Masters of Arts in Conflict Transformation; Masters of Science in Special Education
Community/Public Service I have been a public school teacher and special education teacher for more than a decade; while also being a social justice educator and advocate in and out of the classroom for 20 years.
A board member is expected to listen to the community, especially those most directly affected by board decisions - students, staff, and families - and consider the perspectives of all those stakeholders when making decisions, casting votes, and creating policy. Simultaneously, a board member is expected to monitor, hold accountable, and evaluate the superintendent and district leadership regarding their application of board policies and district-wide strategic plans/goals. Furthermore, a board member is expected to play a public and vital role in budget, staffing, HR decisions, and contract negotiations. I also believe that a board member has a responsibility to critically examine the policies, procedures, personnel, and processes occurring daily, interpersonally, and structurally in our school district with an expectation that equity, justice, and well-being are central to all that we do.
Policy - both the unpacking of historical/current policy in terms of fidelity, impact, and consequences and building out and creating new policy that is equitable, actual-able, and sustainable - plays a central and primary role in my function as a school board member.
Honest and authentic. Grounded and receptive. Oriented alongside and acknowledging capacity/boundaries. A board member must remember that we are a member of the community. With that, a board member must be process-intentional with the community at large and community members individually -- centering listening, affirming the dignity of each person, and focusing on relationship-based growth with a deep understanding that we are all nested in and stakeholders of the community and school district. Within these relationships and complex systems, I, as a board member, will be specifically focused on building relationships with people that interrupt our current systems of power-over and top-down leadership that historically and currently harms and disregards many families, students and staff; while working to build alignment with people and relationships that have always been working towards transforming our schools for themselves, their children and the community.
I believe that board members must be advocates. We have a position of power and responsibility while also having access and leverage (listening, collaborating, and decision-making) with district leadership, certified and classified staff, students, and the community. As a long-time educator, community member, and recent parent in this district I have always expected that the school board hear from, care about, and make decisions representing the community and the commitments this district has publicly stated are important: Equity; that all students, especially those historically oppressed and marginalized, are important and part of this community; that staff is valued and respected; that special education students receive the services that are promised and required; that families know how, why, and what is going on in the schools; and so much more. As a board member, I will listen, learn with, and advocate to ensure we as a district actually prioritize what we promise.
I would want to take a closer, more critical systems-wide look at this proposal and hear from different and diverse stakeholder groups to help develop my thoughts and perspective on this before I make conclusions and/or procedural suggestions.
Personal Biography I'm a married father of 5 who has lived in Lawrence for almost 25 years. All of our children are products of the Lawrence Public School system as well as my wife and I are both products of public school. We are both active in our church community and in the local Boy Scout community.
Campaign Phone (785) 813-1769
Education I received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Kansas in 2002.
Community/Public Service I've been a member of the Lawrence School Board for the past 4 years. I am active in the Scouting program within Douglas County, in particular with Troop 55 but also with the Pelathe District. I volunteer with my kids activities so I've helped on band and choir trips, soccer events, school activities, etc.
A School Board has 4 main roles/duties to perform for it's district. 1.) Hire/evaluate/fire the superintendent. 2.) To approve the district's budget. 3.) To enact policy and 4.) Help define the direction the district is going to move in. Outside of those four main areas, individual board members sit on various district level committees to help facilitate the work of the district and serve as board representatives - Facilities & Operations, Policy, Negotiations, Boundary to name a few. Board members also go out and visit schools with the Superintendent and other district administrators to see how things are going and get feedback directly from staff and students. A board member should also be visible out in the community and and at various school functions to be accessible to members of the public to hear their concerns and engage with them.
Policy is one of the most important things we do as a school board. For a school district, policy is what directs the district to function. We often discuss policy at board meetings that our policy committee has spent considerable time on reviewing or creating to help us address specific problems or to move us in a specific direction. Understanding the role of Board Policy and GAP are all very important to being an effective Board member.
Without the support of the community (students, families, staff, administration) a board member wouldn't be in the position they are currently in. It's important to make yourself available to that same community as often as you can to hear their concerns, listen to their feedback and offer your perspective on what the board is currently engaged in. This last year has reminded us that not everyone is going to agree with every decision all of the time - but that's okay. Those same decisions still have to be made and the district still has to move forward and sometimes you're going to make a decision that people won't like and they will be vocal about it. Your job is to listen to their feedback and learn from it and make adjustments as necessary.
As board members, we set the tone for how advocacy works within our district. By our actions - the policies we pass, the statements we make, the items we choose to discuss at our meetings - all play a vital role in sending a positive message to those marginalized groups who need to know someone cares and is listening to their needs and is looking out for them.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.