Editor’s note: In the run-up to the June legislative elections, we are running articles on the two contested races this year. Below are two articles, one on the background and motivations of each candidate in the District 4 legislative race.
In a re-run of the 2009 contest for District 4, incumbent Theresa Adame will face challenger Jon Boursaw for the legislative seat. The previous contest between the two Topeka residents was decided by a vote total of 121-107.
Adame is a descendant of the Navarre family on her father’s side whose family hails from the Rossville area, a place that is currently home to CPN Elderly Housing and a Community Center. An administrator for Topeka-based Capital Orthopedic Center, Adame first became interested in tribal politics because of her father, Raymond Martin, who she would accompany to tribal meetings.
“For years I’d taken him to regional meetings, and my participation in those developed my love for the family and tribe at a young age,” said Adame. “So when the legislative opening came about after the new Constitution was passed, he made the announcement for me that I was running.”
While each legislative district has its own unique challenges, one of the most prevalent for CPN members in Kansas is being confused with the Prairie Band Potawatomi, who have a substantial organization in the state.
“Growing up here in Kansas, we didn’t have that strong sense of community as there is in Oklahoma or even compared to the Prairie Band. I wanted to develop those connections as a tribe like they had in Oklahoma. We are now interacting as a group through social media and our gatherings,” noted Adame.
In addition to deepening the community ties for CPN members in the district, Adame cited the Senior Care Network as another accomplishment during her time in office.
“It’s also something I’m proud of. It started as a grant just two years ago,” said Adame, “but has since been funded by the tribe. The program oversees the health and well-being of approximately 125 CPN members around the Topeka and Rossville areas, and it’s been successful so far.”
Entering this election, the incumbent is happy to see the tribal electoral process move forward but is equally excited to retain her seat.
According to Adame, “My daughter told someone once, ‘Everyone is either a follower or a leader. My mother is not a follower.’ I think that is a pretty good explanation as to why I’m running again.”
In District 4, Jon Boursaw is challenging incumbent Theresa Adame for the legislative seat in one of this year’s contested elections. Boursaw and Adame both ran against one another in the September 2009 election for the seat.
The Air Force veteran and Kansas native is a descendant of the Bourassa and Ogee families. An aficionado of tribal history, Boursaw gives presentations each year to participants of the PLP Student Program on the path of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation from pre-European times to its status today.
“As a tribal member,” commented Boursaw, “my job is to explain who we are, where we came from and how we got to where we are to today. I have done that by giving numerous presentations to historical societies, civic organizations, and university classes and groups. That is something I’m very proud of.”
Boursaw believes his experience in the professional and military worlds can benefit those living District 4.
“I’ve demonstrated proven leadership as a manager in public and private service,” said Boursaw. “I think that my duty as a legislator would be to ensure that the benefits of tribal membership are available for our constituents in a timely manner.”
The former Air Force man spent 24 years in uniform before retiring as a colonel. He spent 13 years working in major corporations in addition to serving six years as the Executive Director for the Prairie Band Potawatomi in Kansas. His most recent position was during his two and a half years as the Director of the CPN Cultural Heritage Center.
“My time at the Cultural Heritage Center gave me a totally different appreciation of tribal history on how we have persevered and endured through all of the bad times as a tribe,” said Boursaw. “I’m very enthusiastic about what the tribal leadership has done in the last several years and would like to be part of that going into the future.”
On what he’d like to do should he win the election, Boursaw said that he’d “like to expand on how we in Kansas interact with our tribal members outside of the Topeka area. I want those members in other parts of the state to have the same connectivity that we have here.”