Meet the woman who will be appointed to the Idaho Falls City Council today
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IDAHO FALLS — Though she has lived in different cities and states throughout her life, it’s fairly obvious to Lisa Burtenshaw that Idaho Falls is home.
Burtenshaw has been named by Mayor Rebecca Casper to take former City Councilperson Shelly Smede’s vacant city council position.
According to Idaho law, when a vacancy occurs on the city council, it is filled by an appointment of the mayor. That appointment is then ratified by the city council, which will happen during a work session meeting today.
Burtenshaw’s roots in Idaho Falls go back to her great grandfather who moved to the city from Driggs. Though she was born in Provo while her father attended law school, her family moved back to Idaho Falls once he graduated.
She went to Dora Erickson Elementary School, Falls Valley Elementary School, South Bonneville Junior High School (which is now Sandcreek Middle School) and Bonneville High School where she met her future husband, Bryce.
After graduation, Burtenshaw enrolled in Ricks College and then BYU where she received a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Afterward, they lived in Cleveland while her husband got his degree in Dentistry. They then moved back to Idaho Falls, where they have lived in the same neighborhood for over 15 years.
Lisa and Bryce have a daughter, Sydney, and three boys, Jacob, Josh, and Ethan.
In 2008, Burtenshaw was elected to be part of the Idaho Falls Board of Trustees for School District 91, where she would serve for 10 years.
“At the time, I felt like there was a big potential for online learning,” she told EastIdahoNews.com. “I was interested in the schools and technology, and where technology could take the students.”
During her time, Lisa and the rest of the school board, along with the superintendent, oversaw the creation of Compass Academy Highschool, where all four of her children would eventually attend. Former City Councilperson Shelly Smede currently sits as director of the school.
Smede resigned last month to spend more time with her family. She told EastIdahoNews.com she was somewhat nervous leaving the city council but was delighted to know Burtenshaw would be taking her place.
“I have just felt a great deal of peace since the announcement,” Smede said. “Everything is in good hands.”
The respect between the two is mutual.
“I have the utmost respect for Shelley Smede. I view her as a collaborative partner,” Burtenshaw added.
One of Burtenshaw’s proudest accomplishments was being involved in the rebuilding of four elementary schools in the district – Edgemont, Dora Erickson, Longfellow, and Ethel Boyes.
“That was a big project for us because so many of those buildings had been put up in the ’60s,” she explained. “It just created a situation in our schools where we were really lacking the infrastructure to deliver the kind of education that our teachers wanted and our parents wanted.”
These accomplishments were important because Burtenshaw found herself in these buildings every day, not only as a school board trustee, but as a mom with children in all stages of education.
After nearly 10 years of service, Burtenshaw announced her retirement from the school board in 2018 to pursue other interests. The board chairman at the time, Deidre Warden, expressed her gratitude for all the work Lisa had done for the district.
“There’s really no way to measure all the work Lisa Burtenshaw has done on behalf of Idaho Falls School District’s students and staff,” Warden said in 2018. “Her countless long hours, thorough understanding of complex issues and vision will be felt for years to come.”
One motto that Burtenshaw has tried to follow throughout her life is knowing that problems come and go, but relationships are the most important thing.
“I truly believe that people forget issues over time, but they remember how you made them feel,” she elaborated.
After focusing on other priorities in her life since the school board, Burtenshaw told EastIdahoNews.com that the timing has worked out for her to be involved in the city council and she is excited for the opportunity to work with the community.
“We’ll just help each other,” she added. “That’s all Idaho Falls is – a group of people who have chosen to live in this wonderful city and raise a family here. We are the city.”