Taking a Step of Faith: From Crown College to Maple Plain Mayor
Posted November 9th, 2017
By Josie Parker
College is a time of learning.
We learn about life and how to adapt to tough situations. We take courses which teach us valuable information and test our knowledge. Sometimes the most rewarding lessons we learn in college aren’t found inside a textbook.
Julie Maas-Kusske, a Crown College alumna, explains how her time at Crown provided her not only with a valuable education, but also taught her many life skills she now uses in her current position as the Mayor of Maple Plain. Maas-Kusske explains she is especially grateful for Crown’s uplifting environment which prepared her for the future.
Maas-Kusske attended Crown in the 90s. She remembers the variety of experiences she had at the college: being a Resident Assistant and helping many young women on her floor journey through their first years of college, playing on the women’s basketball team, and serving on Student Senate.
Maas-Kusske also remembers making lifelong friendships and memories while at Crown and learning key life skills through the ups and downs of her young adult life.
“I learned more about who God is,” says Maas-Kusske. “The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are guiding principles for how I try to live my life every day. Perseverance and trust are life skills I learned during my time at college. You learn how to afford the cost of college and all the expenses, how to live on your own, and how to manage your schedule. I often find myself in situations at home, at work, and in my role as Mayor where I need to persevere and trust.”
Several faculty and staff members had significant impacts on Maas-Kusske while she attended the college. She remembers many of the faculty and staff members being supportive and encouraging.
“Nancy Starr, the college receptionist, was my favorite staff member,” says Maas-Kusske. “She was my boss, but also so much more than that to me. In some ways, she was my campus mom. She always greeted me with a smile and hug. She would take time to listen when I needed to talk. She would pray for me and encourage me.”
After graduating from Crown College in 1997, Maas-Kusske married a fireman, moved to Maple Plain, and began teaching at a variety of schools. She spent 15 years working in youth groups at local churches. She specifically enjoyed working in her community.
During the summer of 2014, she felt God lead her to run for a seat on the Maple Plain City Council. Two seats on the Council opened, and Maas-Kusske decided to run in the election. She ended up winning and filling one of the vacant seats.
Eventually, this led her to run for Mayor of Maple Plain in the summer of 2016. Maas-Kusske explains feeling anxious about her decision and the election.
“After filing to run, fear and doubt would set in from time to time. It was a step in faith to file and run for the seat,” says Maas-Kusske.
Through the doubt, Maas-Kusske trusted God and stood tall during her journey. By January 1, 2016, she was elected to serve as Mayor of Maple Plain.
“Being Mayor is an incredible honor,” explains Maas-Kusske. “It is a privilege to represent my neighbors in Maple Plain and lead an incredible team. At times it can feel overwhelming. I learn about things I thought I would not need to know, like economic development.”
Along with becoming involved in many different groups, Maas-Kusske explains the toughest part of being Mayor is trying to let every voice be heard–but it’s what she strives to accomplish.
“I do not have an office at City Hall,” says Maas-Kusske. “I spend a fair amount of time talking with my neighbors, listening to them via phone, in person, or by email. I want everyone to be heard, but there is a process and sometimes a time limit. Often, as Mayor, I need to put aside my personal opinion for the better of the team and, ultimately, the city as a whole.”
While the job isn’t always easy, Maas-Kusske feels grateful for the opportunity she has been given to make a difference. She is grateful for her experiences at Crown and the foundation she built early in life.
“When life gets hard and things won’t go the way you want them to or the way you think they should, always walk in faith,” says Maas-Kusske. “Trust and believe that nothing that comes to you hasn’t first come through our Lord’s hands. You are not alone.”