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.

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.

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. 

Russ Henry, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond. 

Devin Hogan, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond. 

Jonathan Honerbrink, Park Board At-Large

Did not respond. 

Mohamed Issa Barre, Park Board District 1

Did not respond. 

Billy Menz, Park Board District 1

Did not respond. 

Chris Meyer, Park Board District 1

Did not respond.

Kale Severson, Park Board District 2

Did not respond. 

Mike Talley Tate, Park Board District 2

Did not respond. 

Charles Exner, Park Board District 3

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.