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Ex-TUSD Boardmember Bruce Burke to fill vacant seat

Bruce Burke, who left the TUSD Governing Board almost a decade ago, will fill the seat left vacant by the sudden resignation of Mark Stegeman last month. He'll serve through next year, following his appointment Friday.

Burke was tapped from among 15 applicants for the post by Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams, who announced his choice Friday afternoon.

"After an extensive review process, Bruce Burke stood out as the candidate who most closely aligns with the TUSD Governing Board adopted mission, vision, and values," Williams said in a news release. "Bruce is highly respected in this community and has the experience that will ensure a smooth and effective transition for TUSD. Bruce is committed to serving all TUSD stakeholders while focusing on student learning and success."

Burke, who held a seat on the Governing Board of Tucson's largest district from 2003-2010, said "It is an honor and privilege to serve.."

"I look forward to working with Superintendent Trujillo and all the members of the Governing Board to strengthen and improve the educational experience of every TUSD student," he said.

The position will be up for election in November 2020 for a four-year term. Burke has indicated that he won't pursue being elected to the board again.

The 15 applicants to fill the seat included a number of former and likely future candidates for the TUSD board.

"Given the breadth and variety of my experience, I am confident I can quickly get up to speed to deal with the issues currently before the board," Burke said as part of his application for the post. "I will come to meetings prepared to share my problem-solving ideas. Yet, I also recognize that the shared ideas of others may be better than mine, and that their ideas could improve on mine."

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Burke is a retired lawyer whose three daughters attended TUSD schools.

Stegeman, in his third term on the TUSD board, resigned effective immediately Oct. 3, in an unexpected announcement.

Stegeman was first elected in 2008. He has at various times served as president of the board, and been at the center of many TUSD controversies over the past decade.

TUSD's board has been contentious during his time in office, with various shifting factions clashing over a series of issues.

"I made the decision more or less months ago" about resigning, he said. "I realized that I'm not the best spokesperson for the district," with TUSD not heading in a direction that he can support.

Stegeman, who has registered and un-registered as a Democrat during his time in the nonpartisan unpaid office, was an opponent of the district's Mexican American Studies program that was caught up in a lengthy court battle, and maneuvered to oust a previous superintendent during his terms.

He cited family responsibilities as one of his reasons for resigning.

"Every hour I spend on TUSD is an hour I don't spend on my two small kids," he said.

"The biggest reason is that I'm no longer confident, or see the path, to making TUSD the outstanding district I envision," he said.

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Bruce Burke

Candidates

15 people applied to be appointed:

  • John Christopher Ackerley
  • Roger Blumenthal
  • Bruce A. Burke
  • Debe A. Campos-Fleenor
  • Luis Armando Gonzales
  • Cristina Mennella
  • Betts Putnam-Hidalgo
  • Adam Ragan
  • Joshua Reilly
  • Raul Romero
  • Tobin Rosen
  • Peter Santaniello
  • Joel Smith
  • Luis Armando Vega
  • Charlie Verdin