PARK BOARD

We vote for park board officials because this is our city and it is a place where we laugh and dance in the street and ride bikes and cry. Where you are never far from the water. 

To find your Park District, visit vote.minneapolismn.gov

Meg Forney, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

In my 1st term, I have paved the way to take clear steps: To reduce barriers to park access for all, To bring families & kids closer to our parks by continuing to secure parks & trails along the Mississippi for No & NE residents as well as make connections into those communities, To build a park system for future generations by expanding public/not-for-profit partnerships to bring new funding in to maintain our parks thus limit the burden on taxpayers, while ensuring open space for all residents.

Tell Us About Yourself

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received? womenwinning, labor

Do you own or rent your home? Own

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Reminiscing after Tom Petty’s death about Traveling Wilbury’s, an example of great talent collaborating without their names in the lights.

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

OPEN SPACE and that our forefathers and mothers had the vision to set aside these rich natural amenities for all

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

Parks’ open space defines the quality of life in Minneapolis, after all it is a city in a park.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I show up, listen and engage. Being present in the present is the most accountable method I actively use.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in Minneapolis Parks right now?

To reduce barriers to park access for all

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

YES, I look forward to the crafting of our RecQuest vision by the community, for the community.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

Utilizing the same resources, MPRB’s data driven matrixes will enable us to redirect processes & leverage inclusionary benefits for all.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

Leveraging resources through partnerships like the Minneapolis Schools is critical for equitable programming.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

MPRB’s recent change to The Rule of 3 is an example of lifting barriers for advancement. Continued clarity and transparency for all staff in their career tracking.

 

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

Improving park access for all families.

Expanding the community engagement process.

Protecting and expanding equitable funding for parks.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

The ultimate displacement of the current toxic industries adjacent to the Mississippi River is essential for environmental justice. The health disparities resulting from the industrial air, water and soil pollutants in North Minneapolis are unacceptable. Yet, displacement of immediate residents is avoidable. I will advocate for a mixed-income neighborhood structure.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I was one of the lead Park Commissioners in securing $220 million for our neighborhood parks and that money will be directed first toward racially concentrated areas of poverty. I ask for your support to return me to office to continue the stewardship of reducing barriers to park access, protecting equitable funding for neighborhood parks, ensuring families in our most vulnerable communities have high quality parks for years to come. I ask for your #1 vote.

Devin Hogan, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

Because I have the values to get it right and the acumen to get it done. I understand municipal finance and budgeting, and have visited all 49 Rec Centers. I have lived and worked in three states and three continents and have come to learn the only difference in global poverty is scale. As a genderqueer person I understand what it feels like to be under attack just for existing. As a white elected official my role would be building solidarity to actively defeat white supremacy.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: he, him, his

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received?

Minneapolis DFL, Stonewall DFL, TakeAction MN, Minneapolis Public Employees Association, Sea Salt

State Reps. Ilhan Omar, Karen Clark, Frank Hornstein, Paul Thiessen, State Senator Scott Dibble

Council Members Andrea Jenkins (almost), Lisa Bender, Andrew Johnson

School Board Members Rebecca Gagnon, KerryJo Felder, Bob Walser, Nelson Inz, Ira Jourdain

Do you own or rent your home?

Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Radiohead Kid A… or Kanye My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

Parks represent freedom! They are spaces to congregate and share together in our common humanity.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

Exercise, nature, connection. I have volunteered as a historic streetcar operator on chain of lakes.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

Showing up. I believe in the concept of co-governing and I plan to prioritize constituent services. The Park Board’s present community engagement processes favors those who can come to meetings. We can learn a lot by just talking to people in the parks. Listen to staff on the ground too! There is a lot of disconnect between HQ decisions and what works in neighborhood parks.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

Inequitable distribution of services (especially rec plus and sports), the leadership’s privatization agenda and general lack of vision!

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

Yes. Our 49 rec centers are the most radical public infrastructure in Minneapolis. The most unique asset of our notably unique system.  

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

We need to find more sources of funding, especially at the state and county level. The state has provided small amounts of bonding money for youth development in the past, and I want MPRB to focus on securing more! DNR has a lot of money for recreation we can tap into. Our biggest savings will come from stopping outsourcing and contractors in situations where public employees do the work better and cheaper.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

Rec Plus is one of the cheapest childcare options in Minneapolis. It’s still too expensive. Start with better distribution of Rec Plus options (North only has one Rec Plus site in during the summer!) Work with the county and federal government to bring in additional funding. Partner with Minneapolis Public Schools community education to share resources and facilities.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

Recruitment, hiring, and retention are the place to start. There are a lot of discriminatory job requirements that prevent people from being hired, re-hired, or moving into management. Work to get healthcare and other protections for ALL employees, not just the full-time staff that are disproportionately white.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

  1. Take the small steps towards justice including repealing spitting and lurking ordinances, removing gender questions from permits/rentals, and repealing the sedition ordinances on public comments during board meetings. 2. Strengthen and expand the Memorandum of Understanding between Park Board and School Board to share services and facilities. 3. Get serious about our role in achieving the city’s Climate Action Goals.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

The Park Board has a seat on the Planning Commission! We need LOTS more housing ALL over the city to prevent displacement. We can grow without displacement if we focus the upcoming growth in a dense fashion that supports affordability and multimodal transportation, because housing costs and transportation costs are linked. We must advocate for and build environments that make alternative transportation viable. Urbanism is environmentalism.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I was recruited to run and my entire campaign team is women, which I think says a lot about a lot.

Russ Henry, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for park board because I believe in parks as a space to grow equity and health. I’m running to transition our parks off of pesticides to protect people and wildlife. I’m running to have a greater interaction with the local food system in parks including fruit trees, community gardens, and community kitchens. I’m running to make sure we spend the park board budget more equitably in low-income neighborhoods. And I’m running to maintain and grow the best park system in America.  

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: he, him, his

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received?

DFL, Take Action MN, Our Revolution, Ilhan Omar, Andrew Johnson, Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Ira Jourdain

Do you own or rent your home?

Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Gillian Welch: Harrow and the Harvest

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

I love connecting with my friends and neighbors, and relaxing in nature in Minneapolis Parks!

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

I met the love of my life in a Minneapolis Park. Now she’s my partner and campaign manager.  

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I will work with organizations that work directly in community such as Parks and Power, Voices for Racial Justice, InquilinXs UnidXs por Justicia, Sister’s Camelot, Project Sweetie Pie, and Pillsbury United Communities as a way of engaging with community. I’ll use my role as a commissioner to uplift the voices of people who’s voices have been marginalized. Parks are a way to create social justice and grow community health, this work can only be done effectively if guided by community.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

Inequitable distribution of resources ; jobs, staff, budget. Mismanagement of ecosystems. Missing opportunities to empower communities.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

Yes, investing in youth development and childcare is one way to put the kids first in our park system.  

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

From administration and policing. While the overall number of employees has stayed fairly consistent in the last 20 years, the size of administration of our park system has grown while the number of employees in parks has shrunk. I’d like to see us downsize our administration and work with the Minneapolis Public Schools to have park police work as School Resource Officers. This is a way to grow positive relationships between police and kids while saving costs by sharing resources.  

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

I’ll work to with the State of MN, Hennepin County Child Care Assistance, and Minneapolis Public Schools to expand the Rec Plus program. I’ll also work to expand the Rec Plus Fee Assistance Program so more parents from low-income neighborhoods learn about the program and can receive benefits. I’ll engage with community groups to learn if this work is effective in providing increased, affordable access to childcare and recreation programs because it’s time to put kids first in our park system.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

75% of the salaried staff at MPRB are white, this must be changed in order to grow equity with our park system. We need a full review and reconciliation of complaints by staff of color at MPRB to begin to determine the extent to which white supremacy is upheld and expressed in our park system. I fully support eliminating the 4 year degree requirement we now have for many staff leadership positions in parks and admin which keeps qualified candidates of color unfairly out of management.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

Elimination of 4 year degree requirement as explained above, repeal of lurking and spitting ordinances, implementation of soil carbon sequestration goals and strategies, elimination of pesticide use, elimination of toxic shredded tire play surfaces, investment in local food system initiatives including fruit trees in parks, urban farms and community gardens on empty lots, investment in soccer, restructuring of community engagement to empower community, legalize skateboarding.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

I’ll work to ensure 4 things come along with the UHT project to fight the forces of economic displacement.

  1. Work with schools to codevelop park as a space to co-campus youth. Science and athletics for youth in parks.
  2. Work with a local community organizations to perform the actual development of the parks.
  3. Expand our Teen Teamworks program to enroll hundreds more youth in learning job skills.
  4. Create a jobs program that works with local residents to receive training for park jobs.   

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I’m a dad, a small business owner, and a policy activists. My son and partner work with me at our family-run organic landscaping company that has been in business here in Minneapolis for 13 years. For the last 5 years I’ve been at the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council where I served as cochair while moving policies through the City, State, and Park Board. I’m ready to work with community, staff, and elected officials to grow equitable, sustainable, pesticide free parks!

Jonathan Honerbrink, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

Because of the lack of restriction and building in the park board. I see many issues with our park community centers not getting the attention they need. I would like to see more programming and events set up to keep our youth involved in their community. Also I am sad to see irresponsible spending affect our youth. I want everyone to get the same opportunity’s I got through the park board which changed my life.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: He/Him

Party Affiliation: GOP

What endorsements have you received? GOP

Do you own or rent your home? Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Chronic by dr Dre

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

I love the sense of family and community there is in our park board. I love the lakes and every amazing piece of land we own.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

I was mentored through coaching and volunteers. By their efforts it made me the person I am today.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I am always at the park. Part of being a great leader is listening. Well you always have my ears. I will be open 24-7 to anyone’s concerns

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

The lack of rebuilding the buildings, community programming, and the dishonesty of current members of the park board.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

This needs to be tackled and this is my largest focus. I will be making this my priority.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

I will be looking at disinvestment, but I will be concentrating on how we are spending money with reckless abandon with current partners that are taking advantage of our money.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

Park board will be open from 7am- 9pm. I would like to see childcare provided at our community park boards.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

We will increase training and awareness at the park board to make sure we utilize what we have. There is a lack of discipline and I want to make sure each person knows that there job is so vital to making sure our communities thrive. I would like to set up work study programs for our staff so that they receive degrees through these classes and training.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

There needs to be a open door policy at the park board. The staff needs to be more involved and the centers need to remain open.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

This should be looked at as a 80/ 20 liveable wage development where it can include people of all incomes.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

Our community centers will create over 7000 jobs in 7 years if I am elected for people in the community. I have been a community volunteer in the park board in North Minneapolis since 2009. Coaching and doing after school studies with youth. I am a full time general contractor in Minneapolis focus on green building and energy driven solutions. I ran Home Depot service development division from 2004-2009 through out the country. Building a infrastructure to over a 7 billion dollar division of the company. My passion resides around the children of Minneapolis. Growing up in North Minneapolis I was mentored and brought up through wonderful people in the park board. I would like to see the park board get back to grass roots community involvement.

Bob Sullentrop, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

I am running for this office because I have the necessary experience for this position. I am a licensed civil engineer and I also have management experience in my current job. I have always enjoyed the Minneapolis park system and look forward to helping maintain the system as the best one in the country.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: None

Party Affiliation: Republican

What endorsements have you received? Republican Party

Do you own or rent your home? Own

 

Let’s Get To Know You

What is your favorite album?

[Not answered]

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

I’ve always enjoyed the lakes, the river, and the Minnehaha Creek the most.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

The parks have provided many enjoyable days spent swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I am not sure what all I would do along these lines. I believe that Park Board meetings are open to the public, or at least some of them are. Also, the media report regularly on Park Board activities. Concerned citizens are welcome to provide input. I would also be open to people contacting me directly with their concerns.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis Parks right now?

My biggest issue is the possible closing of the Hiawatha Golf Course. I do not favor this. The nuisance water issue needs to be resolved.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

I would support youth development programs. I’m not sure that free childcare in the parks is in everyone’s interest.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

I haven’t given any thought to this issue and am not sure that any money needs to be shifted since I’m not aware of what is currently being done and whether it is adequate.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

I wouldn’t. The State of Minnesota subsidizes childcare. Parks aren’t daycare centers.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

I don’t know what policies I would change because I don’t know if there are any changes needed.

 

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

I don’t know of any changes that are urgent.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

I’m not exactly sure what that refers to, but it likely has to do with changing the industrial and commercial areas that abut the Mississippi river in north and northeast Minneapolis into parks. It may also have to do with closing the locks at the St Anthony Falls to prevent invasive species from getting up-river. I do not favor turning these areas into parks. They are adding to the local economy and should be allowed to continue doing so. I do favor closing the locks if there is no other option

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I moved to Minneapolis when I was in sixth grade and have been here pretty much ever since. I am a Marine Corps veteran and a Vietnam veteran who served honorably and who is proud of his service to his country. I also worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for six years and for several engineering firms over the years. I am also an election judge in Minneapolis at Martin Luther King Park where I have worked since 2008. I look forward to becoming a Park Board Commissioner.

LaTrisha Vetaw, Park Board At-Large

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Park Board because I am passionate about parks and I want to do all that I can to protect and preserve our parks for the next generation. I will work to ensure that our parks are safe and healthy for ALL members of the community and I’ll help bridge the divide between communities of color and the Park Board. I am a coalition builder by nature so I will be able to work with a diverse group of stakeholders to tackle the complex issues faced by the Park Board.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: She, her

Party Affiliation: Green Party

What endorsements have you received? Green Party, womenwinning

Do you own or rent your home? Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Stevie Wonder, Songs in the key of Life

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

Parks are my jam. I love to walk and bike the trails. Who needs a gym when you have so many trails to choose from?

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

I grew up with a single mother and we didnt have a lot. The parks have always been there for us!

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I am a coalition builder by nature and I love talking to community members. I will work to engage stakeholders and build coalitions so that multiple perspectives are represented. I believe the best decisions are made when the community is able to come to the table and be heard. I will solicit and welcome feedback on performance as a Commissioner to ensure that I am meeting the needs of my constituents.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis Parks right now?

Increasing engagement between the Park Board and communities of color, youth recreation, and keeping our parks safe and healthy for everyone

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

Yes, Improving youth development and recreation opportunities is a key priority for me. Childcare is also an important priority for me.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

I would start by examining the programs that are already in place to determine what is working. If there are programs that are not working, then we should shift resources to new and existing programs that work and are evidence-based. I’ll work to ensure that effective youth programs have sufficient resources and that the youth workers have the resources they need. I work with youth, and I know how challenging this important work can be. We need to support these essential workers the best we can

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

Youth development and recreation is a top priority for me. We need to find ways to increase access to youth programming and childcare. Childcare costs in our city are among the highest in the country. I believe that the MPRB has an important role to play in providing cost effective and high quality childcare. The MPRB already provides childcare to a lot of families. We should look at what is working and find ways to expand those services in a cost effective way.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

As a black woman, I experience inequity firsthand. The first step to dealing with inequity is to get people who look like me at the table. For me, the next step would be to talk to and listen to the staff of color. I would like to hear their ideas about how the MPRB has let them down and how the MPRB can do better. I fully support MPRB’s recent efforts to improve in this area. Culture change is hard work and I am ready to put in the work on this issue.

 

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

My priorities will be to increase engagement between communities of color and the Park Board; improve youth recreation offerings; keep our parks safe, healthy, and clean; and make sure that our aging population has equitable access to parks and programming.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

Our city is facing an affordable housing crisis. The MPRB cannot solve this issue in a silo. We must work collaboratively with the City Council and other stakeholders. Efforts to redevelop the Upper Harbor must go hand in hand with efforts to redevelop the adjacent areas.

Anything else you want people to know?

As the only woman of color running for Park Board, I think I bring a unique and much needed perspective. You’ve likely seen the Park Board in the news over the last year because of tensions between communities of color and the Board. I want to help bridge the divide between my community and the Park Board. As a connected community organizer, I have the experience and skills to do this. I also bring the real life experience of being a person of color, which is very much needed at this time.

Billy Menz, Park Board District 1

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Park Board out of a genuine concern for our parks and our local city. I believe that local action is the most important thing we do as citizens and I think I am the best, most passionate person for the job. I am a teacher and think that my experiences working with diverse families and kids, my work in athletics in the parks and my long time commitment to community service made me a good candidate. I just felt like I needed to show up for my community.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: he

Party Affiliation: Green

What endorsements have you received? Green Party, Sierra Club

Do you own or rent your home? Own

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

And Justice for All, Metallica

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

I have lived all over the world and our parks are the best I have seen. We have the best parks and we need to make sure we keep it that way

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

I am immersed in the parks. The parks are the reason I live in Minneapolis and call it home.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I will continue to maintain my coaching, my teaching and be in my community. It is important to be accessible and open to all ideas and rely on people who know more than me. I will work to engage the neighborhood parks by being out in the community.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

Equity. We must find a way to make our park system work for everyone. The parks our for everyone but our system only works for some.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

Yes.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

I can’t shift money alone but I can tell you that I will work with the commissioners to re-prioritize youth engagement in the parks. As a school teacher, I feel I am the best candidate to strengthen collaboration with the schools so we don’t work in silos. We must work together on this if we are going to truly change the lives of our youth.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

The parks are a resource for our community and our families. I think the childcare we provide is important and should be expanded but not without the help of the city and the schools. We must share the burden of creating a system where young people and families are supported in our city. The Parks are a big part of that, but we must create coalitions to accomplish these goals.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

Again, we must work together to create positive change on the board and implement policies that create a system where all workers are valued, respected and provided opportunities for growth. When we create policies that encourage and invest in our workers to build skills in our parks, we are setting policy. We must provide the space for our staff of color to lead in our organization. I will work hard to ensure that space is provided.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

Changing the discussion about how we support our staff is paramount to our success in the future. We should examine our staffing policies in the park buildings and find ways to ensure those staff can keep buildings open longer. We must eliminate the policy that prevents workers from advancing because they lack a piece of paper instead of skill. We must implement a Protect and Improve the River campaign that uses our prominence to educate the community about our most important natural resource

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

Involve the community in the design and implementation of the development. There are a lot of concerns here around gentrification and those must be addressed before the project is in full swing. The project presents tremendous opportunity for residents of the North side to have access to the river, but we must work with those communities to ensure the biggest benefit is to those communities closest to the development. Community engagement will be paramount.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

My opponent is trying to paint me as status quo. That is a false accusation. I am a Green Party and Sierra Club endorsed candidate for Park Board. I was originally running against the incumbent because she was out of touch with the community on issues around youth and engagement. I have secured her support since but still have my desire for significant change on the Park Board. I believe it is important to build strong coalitions for change and those don’t come from one side of the table.

Christopher Meyer, Park Board District 1
Christopher Meyer

Why are you running for office?

I’m running because I want to pass strong progressive policies to fight climate change, promote racial equality, invest in historically neglected neighborhoods, and maintain and build upon our outstanding park system. The Park Board has long been fairly conservative compared to other government bodies in Minneapolis, and there is tremendous potential to move it in a more progressive direction.

Tell Us About Yourself

Pronouns: he, him, his

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received?

AFSCME, MPEA, Our Revolution, Stonewall DFL, Minnesota Young DFL, Representative Keith Ellison, Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Karen Clark, Senator Scott Dibble, Council Member Lisa Bender, Council Member Andrew Johnson, School Board Chair Rebecca Gagnon

Do you own or rent your home?

Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

What is your favorite album?

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

What’s your favorite things about the Minneapolis Parks?

The bike trails. I’ve never had a driver’s license (and don’t plan to get one). I ride my bike everywhere; park trails are my highways. 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

I moved to Minneapolis because of the good bike network, and the parkways are the foundation of it.

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I will hold weekly office hours and regularly attend neighborhood and advocacy meetings. I’ll work especially hard to increase engagement among populations that have historically been underrepresented in local affairs, especially students, renters, people of color and immigrant communities. I will regularly seek feedback and community input.

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

Fighting climate change, promoting racial equality, improving youth programs, basic maintenance issues

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

Yes! It is a top priority of mine to improve and increase accessibility for youth programs.

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

I support a “chop from the top” approach to reducing administrative bloat. We can transition to electric vehicles for the park board fleet; a Minneapolis City Council study found this would actually *save* money over 10 years. We can increase revenue by issuing alcohol permits in parks (for weddings, etc.) It’s also essential to elect Democrats at the state level (because a lot of parks money comes from the state, and R’s have been determined to cut funding for Minneapolis) and I will help do that.

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

I want to make childcare programs automatically free for anyone who qualifies for free or reduced cost student lunch. I also want to increase outreach to make their availability more widely known.

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

First I will listen and work with staff of color when they bring up concerns, rather than call the police on them. I’ll work to increase recruitment of people of color so our park staff better reflect our city. I also support a policy change to move away from rigid degree requirements, allowing for “or equivalent experience,” to be considered.

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

Climate change is the most urgent issue we face as a species, so I believe we must make large policy changes to reduce our carbon pollution on the local level by doing things like transitioning to electric vehicles, increasing energy efficiency, and supporting active transportation.

Our racial disparities are a national embarrassment. The Park Board can do its part to reduce them by investing more in neglected neighborhoods, expanding youth programs, and hiring more staff of color.

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

I’ll press for mixed income housing rather than luxury properties, and will work with land trusts and non-profits to help enable nearby residents to purchase their homes before prices begin climbing.

Anything else you want people to know?

Normally, you would expect the Green Party candidate to more to the left of the Democrat. That is not the case in this race. As Naomi Kritzer put it, the Green Party candidate in this race is the “defender of the status quo.”

Kale Severson, Park Board District 2

Why are you running for office?

I’m running because I have the experience, passion, and drive needed to push policy through bureaucracy on behalf of my community. To build strong communities we need a strong advocate at the policy level. I’ve done the work, and I’m going to keep showing up and doing the work to get the real change we deserve. The Northside has been disenfranchised for too long.

Tell Us About Yourself

Pronouns: he, him, his

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received?

MN DFL, MRLF AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 5, SEIU State Council, MYDFL, MPEA, Sierra Club, Our Revolution, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Rep. Ilhan Omar, MPS Board Chair Rebecca Gagnon, MPS Vice Chair Kim Ellison, MPD District 2 Director Kerry Jo Felder, MPS District 6 Ira Jourdain.

Do you own or rent your home?

Own

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Fugees, The Score

 

What’s your favorite things about the Minneapolis Parks?

Green space for all for free, trees, basketball with my son (he always wins); seeing a diverse community using our dedicated park space.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

From preschool at Farview to youth sports to my first job at Folwell, parks gave my life value

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I plan to have face to face meetings and hold public office hours available to the public. We need a better system of communication and letting our neighborhoods know what programming is occurring within our park system, and we need to be utilizing social media more effectively.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

1) youth of color disenfranchisement 2) greener, sustainable parks 3) hiring practices

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

YES, this is part of my strategy especially for the Northside. We have an equity issue with childcare & development program

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

We should chop from the top and reallocate dollars for youth development. The best way to stretch our tax dollars is by putting the dollars in our rec centers for programming. I have a track record of creating and partnering to have solid programs in our community.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

I will increase access for free and affordable programs through fee waivers and possibly partnering with MPS on a policy of free programing for any child on free or reduced lunch. I think fundraising is a idea that has been left behind. It’s a way to involve and engage parents and the community. Activity councils have been an effective way to put the decision making back in the parents hands, and I would like to see an increase of activity councils in our parks.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

We need to recreate the diversity council for park employees to share ideas and have a better understanding of our different cultures and how to better support each other. We need to address the unequitable pattern of hiring Northsiders and people of color for maintenance or part time jobs but not for jobs in leadership that are full time with benefits.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

Hiring practices, communication, engagement, & restorative justice.

We have great diverse, qualified workers ready to lead, let’s develop a jobs pipeline for Northsiders & POCI for good union park jobs.

Communication is key to healthy relationships and our park board needs a reboot when it comes to meeting our community where its at. If residents had program information, we would have more participation.

We can play a pivotal role in helping our youth rise above mistakes and overcome barriers

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

I am committed to Upper Harbor as a green space accessible to all and for Northsiders historically excommunicated from our great river. Land stolen from indigenous, developed for the benefit of a few, poisoned, abused, and used to keep poor folk and POCI shut out should be transformed to a place to repair our abuses and reconnect our community to our river AND not a place for a bunch of fancy apts for well-to-do folks to gentrify. I’ll partner with my colleagues at the city to fight for this.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I’ve been a coach, mentor, and advocate for 20 years. But on top of that I know what it takes to change policy. When they decided to close North High, our community said “hell no” and we organized not just to protest but to provide a new path to force them to value what we value for our community. No one will just give us anything. We’ve got to fight for it. With my community, we’ve fought and won before, and I’ll do the same WITH MY COMMUNITY as a park board member.

Charles Exner, Park Board District 3

Why are you running for office?

District 3 deserves a qualified candidate with solid solutions. My degree in Environmental Studies from Augsburg, time spent on the board of directors/finance committee of MPIRG, and work as an Environmental Consultant for ENGIE certainly makes me qualified. My solutions include having a board-appointed Environmental Justice Officer to ensure that an EJ Framework is followed for years to come—as the position will outlast any one commissioner. My other solutions can be found at betterparks.net

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: he, him, his

Party Affiliation: Green

What endorsements have you received?

Minneapolis Public Employee Association, Immigrant Movement for Justice, SocialistAction, Southside Pride

Do you own or rent your home?

Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

When I’m out on jog or soaking in the tub? Archandroid-Janelle M, Blue-Joni M, Bent-Ssion, Mala-Devendra B, Coast Explodes-Mammatus,

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

This past year I have taken advantage of the great community ed (ceramics) I would make sure that everyone had programming that suits them!

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

As a renter, the parks are the only greenspace I have–I plan on bringing that perspective to MPRB.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I will meet bimonthly with the community and seek out activist groups like EPIC, Corcoran Grows, IMJ, LERA, Defend Glendale, and neighborhood orgs. I would also foster workplace democracy by regularly meeting with staff—not rely solely on the superintendent. So far, I am the only candidate to seek out activist input. This campaign is the form my own activism is taking. The best leadership is bottom-up, not top-down.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis parks right now?

Our greenery and amenities may be the best, but our labor relations and racial equity are not. We need to follow an EJ Framework.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec center?

Yes, absolutely. Corcoran has great childcare and could be a model for other parks. Including hiring certified childcare providers.  

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

Currently, the MPRB will plop down pavilions, playgrounds, and paved surfaces every chance they get. This contributes to urban runoff and takes away greenspace. We can shift money from capital investments/constructions to programming, including youth dev.  

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

One size does not fit all. District 3 has some of the lowest income neighborhoods in the TC and needs free childcare at parks. As I’ve mentioned before, we can create scholarships for those who need tem and low-prices all around by shifting our priorities to people instead of contractors/developers.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

The MPRB cannot continue its racist staffing procedures–we need to make sure the affirmative hiring practices are followed and job outreach is reaching out to all communities. The EJ Officer would have an equal role in hiring upper division staff as the Superintendent. Park directors would not be switched to new parks haphazardly. Part-time workers would have a pathway to careers. Emphasis on bilingual new hires, especially in the linguistically-diverse District 3.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

The crux of my campaign is an EJ Officer whose job isn’t to apologize for the MPRB, but keep the MPRB, Park Police and Superintendent focused on an EJ Framework. This person would be at all meetings and required for hiring upper division.

 

The annual budget must be set after all contract negotiations with unions—currently it is set before. We need limits on league rentals, currently they push out local kids&families. Park plantings must be pollinator-first; milkweed, catnip, globe flowers etc.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

When I testified to the MPHA recently about its plans, I said that what we need is more Public Housing.The New Devo should have Public Housing(not low-income, which is a misnomer) instead of luxury parkside apartments and condos. We need to make sure that folks outside the UHTD area can access the parks easily, and build commuter-focused bike trails alongside the new park properties.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

You can follow the tracks of my activism, whether being testifying against line 3, working with IMJ or others at my website or on Unicorn Riot. I can promise a radical agenda when elected. Please come to the District 3 Debate on October 19th, 630 PM at East Phillips! Vote for Environmental Justice: Vote for Charles Exner.

AK Hassan, Park Board District 3

Why are you running for office?

I love our parks, and think they have the potential to lift our city up through better access and equity. As a kid I participated in Minnesota Youth in Government. We authored a bill about transportation. It went to the House, then through the Senate. The purpose of the bill was to have heating enclosures for every bus stop. That was the year that I started to get more involved to help make a difference in my community. I want to see the same kind of inclusiveness and compassion in park policy.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Party Affiliation: DFL/Progressive

What endorsements have you received?

Rep. Ilhan Omar (60b)

Sen. Scott Dibble (61)

Rep. Karen Clark (62a)

Rep. Susan Allen (62b)

Rep. Jim Davnie (63a)

Rep. Erin Murphy (64a)

CM Alondra Cano (Ward 9)

CM Andrew Johnson (Ward 12)

SB At Large Kim Ellison

SB Nelson Inz

SB Rebecca Gagnon

AFSCME Council 5

MRLF

Stonewall DFL

MN Young DFL

Do you own or rent your home? Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Anything by Hassan Adan Samatar

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

I love to bike, so I would say our bike paths are my favorite things in the Park System.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

They provided the needed natural spaces in my development to thrive and grow.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I want to hold regular community town halls for park-goers and members of the community to come together and express what they want to see in our parks. I would also like to see a youth advisory council be created that can act as a liaison to the park board on issues that affect them. I want to remain available to people in my neighborhood, and throughout the district. People need to feel like they are heard, and that their ideas for how to make our parks better are implemented well.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis Parks right now?

Racial equity and over-policing are the most important issues. MPRB has a responsibility to empower and protect our communities

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

Yes. Kids should have the opportunity to spend as much time in our parks as possible. Also, families need this kind of support.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

The park board should be shifting funds away from park police and certain unnecessary capital investments and improvements, budget shifts that will free up money for youth development and recreation programming. We also need to make sure we limit wasteful and shortsighted contracting that doesn’t benefit the community.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

Augmenting funds from other areas discussed in the previous question will allow for more affordable programming, but we also need the facilities to house these programs. Communities without access to these facilities and programming dollars require more funds and advocacy. Childcare can be more affordable, but we need to commit more to funding it and capital investments to house it. The NPP20 must, and will, prioritize need as it relates to historical inequity in our neighborhoods.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

All members in the Park Board deserve respect and opportunity. Workers need to to have channels for grievance, and the MPRB needs to take the concerns of POCI workers seriously, updating best practice through this dialogue. Endorsed by the MRLF and AFCSME Council 5, I am committed to diversity and inclusivity training, not just for our police, but for management and those who hire. We need more staff of color, and more good paying entry level jobs with opportunity to work up the ladder.

 

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

In the past, the same resources have been going back to the same parks. The equity gap is immense, and we have a huge opportunity, with the a new park board and the NPP20 (the historic 20 year park plan now in effect) to deliver accessible, equitable, culturally relevant parks to new and established residents alike. Parks are our collective backyard, and we need them to thrive in urban centers.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

Upper Harbor Terminal in North needs to be implemented by MPRB and partners in full cooperation with North-side residents and voices from the community. We cannot reconnect ecologically to the river with RiverFIRST while pushing our neighbors out. Retail and manufacturing space should be prioritized for North side residents and businesses, and the MPRB and City Council needs to advocate for affordable housing units, and affordability in general, for this project to be successful.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

Right now the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis need the voices of a new generation of young, diverse and progressive leaders. This is our opportunity to create a city that works for all of us, as well as a broader coalition of residents welcomed and included in public spaces and civic dialogue. Join me in making our parks more accessible, and the MPRB a more diverse place.

Jono Cowgill, Park Board District 4

Why are you running for office?

I believe I have the energy, experience, and perspective to be a responsive and innovative park board commissioner. I am an urban planner, I have a reputation as a neighborhood board member who gets things done, and I grew up in south Minneapolis. I think now is the time for a new generation of progressive leadership, and I believe I can facilitate the inclusion of new voices into the complex and sometimes exclusionary system of park board decision making.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: He/him/his

Party Affiliation: DFL

What endorsements have you received? DFL, Minnesota Young DFL, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFSCME Council District 5, OurRevolution (MN and TC), State Senator Scott Dibble, Minneapolis City Council members Lisa Bender and Andrew Johnson

Do you own or rent your home? Rent

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

Just 1? 3 Way Tie: Shadows on the Sun, Blonde on Blonde, and Illmatic.

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

That people of all backgrounds and life experiences can meet on relatively equal footing.

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

They have helped me make friends, learn to empathize with others, and given lifelong memories.

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I believe in progressive action, and will be responsive to marginalized communities organizing for change. I will regularly attend community meetings from a variety of organizations, including advocacy groups and neighborhood organizations. I will listen to children. I will be held accountable by working to make changes on the park board like requiring a youth voice on each CAC, greater simplicity and transparency in communicating how park board funds are spent, and localizing decision making.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis Parks right now?

Equitable investment in programming and infrastructure, long-term environmental sustainability, and equitable employment.

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

Yes.

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

Admin and regional park development projects. The admin arm of the Park Board has grown substantially in the last 15 years, and we have lost sight of the importance of having strong, well-funded neighborhood parks. With the large projects within the regional parks we can enhance support from private funding sources, while reinvesting in neighborhood programming. This is a question of priorities, and I doubt very much that anybody in Minneapolis would stand up against investing in our kids

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

There needs to be a robust, comprehensive approach to providing affordable (and, for some, free), childcare in the parks. I will work with the City and the School Board to coordinate a comprehensive effort for free and affordable childcare.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

  1. Reinstate the internal diversity committee.
  2. Develop clear hiring guidelines that reduce barriers like educational attainment to achieve leadership positions.
  3. Work with local 363, MRLF, and others to strengthen goals of recruiting and hiring more skilled union work.
  4. Invest in partnerships to provide continuing education for youth of color to develop their skills in recreation and park services fields so we can retain our talented TeenTeamworks employees beyond high school and college.

 

What policy changes at the Park Board do you think are most urgent?

  1. Clarifying the sanctuary status of our parks, so we are effective allies with our undocumented neighbors.
  2. Removing ID requirements for park programs.
  3. Revisiting and strengthening the Integrated Pest Management Plan to reduce the use of pesticides.

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

The park board can be forceful about United Properties and its development team adhering to the equity goals of the project. Beyond construction hiring goals, there can be coordination with the City of Minneapolis and City of Lakes Community Land Trust to fund a naturally occurring affordable housing preservation program for the area immediately adjacent to the development site.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I believe that government has a responsibility, more than ever, to empower the voices of our most vulnerable community members. People of color, the indigenous community, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and children all deserve an elevated voice in building the future of our parks and our city.

Brad Bourn, Park Board District 6

Why are you running for office?

Growing up, I had a lot of second chances to become the person I am. After some time at the Bridge for runaway youth and dropping out of school, it was rec center directors and youth workers who gave me those chances. I’ve worked with at-risk youth, immigrants and former offenders. I see so many people who rarely receive first chances. I believe our parks are for everyone and must play a bigger role helping EVERYONE in our city have what they need to live to their greatest potential.

Tell Us About Yourself

 

Pronouns: he, his, him

Party Affiliation: DFL Endorsed

What endorsements have you received? Minnesota DFL, Our Revolution, Stonewall DFL, Young Democrats, Regional Labor Federation (Park Maintenance workers) , AFSCME 5 (Water Quality Specialists), Teamster 32 (Park Equipment Operators), IATSE (stagehands, AV professionals), MPEA (Rec Center Directors), Rep. Keith Ellison, Mayor Betsy Hodges, CM Elizabeth Glidden, Senator Jeff Hayden, RT Rybak, Rep. Paul Thissen, CM Linea Palmisano, CM Lisa Bender, CM Andrew Johnson, CM Alondra Cano, Rep. Karen Clark, And more…

Do you own or rent your home? Own

 

Let’s Get To Know You

 

What is your favorite album?

The Doors- Waiting for the Sun

 

What’s your favorite thing about the Minneapolis Parks?

Parks mean something different to everyone. From safe havens, green spaces, day cares, to food production -only limited by our imagination!

 

What impact have the parks had on your life?

When I ran away from home the first time, an employee at Logan Park sent me home- likely saving my l

 

How do you plan to engage with and be held accountable by community once you are elected?

I try to know when to lead and know when to follow. So much of what I’ve advocated for have come from constituents- The name restoration of Bde Maka Ska, tobacco-free parks, community gardens, goats and reversing discriminatory policies that harass POCI and transgender park users would not be possible without authentic relationships and engagement. This also means, knowing how to change your mind. I’m proud that some of my best supporters were once in stark disagreement over issues with me.

 

The Issues

What are the most important issues in the Minneapolis Parks right now?

Reversing policies and ordinances with discriminatory impacts on POCI and LGBTQ. Ban toxins from parks. Protect parks from privatization

 

Will you support a significant investment into youth development and childcare programs in neighborhood rec centers?

Yes

 

Where will you shift money in the MPRB budget to increase funding for youth development?

In the next few years, Ash tree replacement will be complete, freeing up over $1 million in special revenue per year. Shift fees collected from parking lots and restaurants like the Tin Fish and Sea Salt away from golf courses and into youth development. Switch Park Police from vehicles to bicycles and move those cost savings to youth development. Propose a modest special levy for increased youth development programs.

 

How will you increase access to free and affordable childcare programs?

The park board has a fee waiver process that can be embarrassing and difficult for families to apply for. Growing up on the edge of poverty, my mom would never apply for assistance that she thought another family needed more and oftentimes we just did without. I’ve proposed eliminating youth fees and replacing them with a “suggested donation model.” This would save families the difficulty and stigma of asking for fee waivers and in some cases may actually increase revenues.

 

What policies will you change to better support staff of color at the Minneapolis Park Board?

We must revise hiring policies that have disparate impacts on POCI. Example, if you were convicted of a low-level drug offense in public housing, you are forever disqualified from working in a park. If you commit the same offense in Linden Hills, it’s up to the discretion of the hiring manager. We also know that convictions of low-level drug offenses happen more often to POCI. Until we reverse policies like this, it will be hard to build a work force that is reflective of the city.

 

What policy changes at the park board do you think are most urgent?

  1. Hiring policies mentioned in last response
  2. Banning Glyphosate and crumb rubber in parks
  3. Passing a transgender inclusion policy
  4. Repealing “spitting and lurking” ordinances at the parks that can be used to target and harass POCI and LGBTQ
  5. Halt the trend of outsourcing public jobs
  6. Pilot replacing our fee waiver process with a suggested donation policy
  7. Revise park police body camera policy to take away the manual off/on ability

 

What can you do as a park commissioner to prevent displacement from the Upper Harbor Terminal Development?

We can work more closely with land trusts, community lenders, the City and non-profits to ensure housing programs for 1st time homebuyers are available in neighborhoods now so folks that live their can have purchase homes, before the riverfront development drives up prices.

 

Developers will soon approach the Park Board for park dedication fee waivers along the river. I believe the Park Board could require the developer to insert affordable housing guarantees into these future projects.

 

Anything else you want people to know?

I believe our parks are for everyone and I’m proud to be your DFL and labor endorsed candidate for reelection in District 6.

 

Our parks are wonderful but we still have so far to go to build an inclusive park systems that works for everyone who calls Minneapolis home. I would be honored to have your support in continuing this work. Please feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or send me an email- 612-423-9901 or [email protected]

 

Whoever you vote for, please vote!

Charlie Casserly, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond. 

Mike Derus, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond.

Londel French, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond. 

Mohamed Issa Barre, Park Board District 1

Did not respond. 

Mike Talley Tate, Park Board District 2

Did not respond. 

Abdi Gurhan Mohamed, Park Board District 3

Did not respond. 

Tom Nordyke, Park Board District 4

Did not respond. 

Andrea Fahrenkrug, Park Board District 5

Did not respond. 

Steffanie Musich, Park Board District 5

Did not respond. 

Bill Shroyer, Park Board District 5

Did not respond. 

Bob Fine, Park Board District 6

Did not respond. 

Robert Schlosser, Park Board District 6

Did not respond. 

Jennifer Zielinski, Park Board District 6

Did not respond.