Voter Guide: Park Board

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District 4

District 4 stretches from the east bank of Downtown East and the North Loop to the northern half the Chain of Lakes, including Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and part of Lake Calhoun.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Anita Tabb left her District 4 seat open after one term on the nine-member board.

Parks in the district have been in the spotlight in recent years due to the proposed renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, an effort that the Park Board has taken the initiative on.

District 4 features some of the most-visited park sites in the city, such as the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park and the Cedar Lake Regional Trail. In the next few years, the Park Board will begin to implement new visions for the area, such as the Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Master Plan, that will direct millions of dollars toward improving the parks. On the other side of the district, the board will build Water Works, a new destination park site and restaurant along the downtown Minneapolis riverfront under the board’s RiverFirst initiative.

Tom Nordyke, who served as president of the Park Board just seven years ago, is looking to return to the board as the District 4 commissioner.

His priorities include continuing RiverFirst and finishing renovations to Loring Park and its Berger Fountain. He also plans to expand children’s recreational opportunities, continue the board’s work in addressing funding disparities in neighborhood parks and monitor any effects the SWLRT project would have on parks.

Challenging him is Jono Cowgill, an urban planner who serves on his neighborhood’s board.

Cowgill said his priorities would be improving access to the parks, making investments to combat climate change and expanding programming through partnerships with local groups.

As the District 4 commissioner, Cowgill said he would reduce pesticide use in the parks through changes in the Park Board’s integrated pest management system and looking at examples set by cities like Toronto and Portland.

Jono CowgillJono_Cowgill_PB_D_4

Neighborhood: Lowry Hill East

Occupation: Urban planner, Community Design Group

Relevant Experience: Board member, Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association; chair, Open Spaces Committee; authored a report of capital spending allocation in St. Paul for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs

Endorsements: Minneapolis DFL, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFSCME Council 5, Minneapolis Professional Employees Association, Minnesota Young DFL, Our Revolution, Minnesota Sen. Scott Dibble (District 61), Ward 10 Council Member Lisa Bender, Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson

Website: jono4parks.org

Tom NordykeTOM NORDYKE

Neighborhood: Cedar-Isles-Dean

Occupation: Principal at real estate firm W+Noordijk, Inc.

Relevant Experience: Former Park Board commissioner at-large (2006-2009) and Park Board president (2008-2009); board member, Minneapolis Parks Foundation; commissioner, Minneapolis Planning Commission; chair, Minneapolis Arts Commission; board member, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Endorsements: Former Speaker of the Minnesota House Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman, Park Board President and District 4 Commissioner Anita Tabb, Park Board Vice President and At-Large Commissioner John Erwin, District 3 Commissioner Scott Vreeland, At-Large Commissioner Annie Young

Website: nordykeforminneapolisparks.com

District 6

District 6 occupies the southwestern corner of the city, stretching from the western end of Lake Calhoun to the Kenny and Windom neighborhoods around Grass Lake.

The Southwest Minneapolis district has been led by Commissioner Brad Bourn for the past two terms. Bourn is one of just a few current commissioners running for re-election this year.

Bourn lists accomplishments like reconstructing the Linden Hills wading pool and tennis courts, creating the only off-leash dog park in Southwest and making playgrounds and other park properties tobacco-free. Bourn has been a supporter of changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, which now appears on signage around the lake.

Challenging Bourn is Bob Fine, a veteran of the Park Board who served as a commissioner for four terms. Fine, a longtime participant in Minneapolis politics, previously ran as an at-large candidate but has since sought the District 6 seat.

Fine highlighted his experience as a real estate lawyer, which he used as a parks commissioner to make property deals on behalf of the Park Board. Some of those properties, such as the Scherer site, are now slated to be destination parks in the coming years.

Robert Schlosser is running to provide more programs for seniors, youth and working people. Schlosser said he envisions creating or bolstering non-competitive programs like cooking classes and leisure or life sports and bringing in fitness machines into recreation centers. The Park Board should have less focus on buying property than investing in staff, he added.

“I want to put more emphasis on the people and not so much on the infrastructure,” he said.

A fourth candidate, Jennifer Zielinski, did not return requests for comment. Zielinski is endorsed by the Minneapolis Republican Party.

Brad BournBRAD BOURN

Neighborhood: Lyndale

Occupation: Executive director, Lyndale Neighborhood Association; District 6 Park Board commissioner

Relevant Experience: Two terms as District 6 Park Board commissioner; masters in Public Administration; former youth program coordinator, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center; board member, Theatre Space Project; board member, Theatre Pro Rata

Endorsements: Minneapolis DFL, Stonewall DFL, Our Revolution (Minnesota and Twin Cities chapters), Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, District 5 Rep. Keith Ellison, Mayor Betsy Hodges, Former Mayor RT Rybak, State. Sen. Jeff Hayden (District 62), Ward 8 Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, Ward 9 Council Member Alondra Cano, Ward 10 Council Member Lisa Bender, Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson, Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano

Website: bradbournforparks.com

Bob FineBOB FINE submitted

Neighborhood: Linden Hills

Occupation: Real estate attorney

Relevant Experience: Four terms as a Park Board commissioner; volunteer youth sports coach, Park Board; member, Linden Hills Neighborhood Council; former board member, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization; former commissioner, Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission; former member, Board of Estimate and Taxation; former board member, Children’s Theatre Company; board trustee, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Endorsements: Minneapolis Professional Employees Association

Website: fineforparks.com

Robert SchlosserBOB SCHLOSSER

Neighborhood: Tangletown

Occupation: Retired

Relevant Experience: Recreation, Parks & Leisure Services degree (B.S.),

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Endorsements: N/A

Website: N/A

At-Large

Three members of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board represent the entire city.

Only one incumbent is up for re-election: Commissioner Meg Forney, who has served one term. Current District 3 Commissioner Scott Vreeland ran for a citywide seat, but dropped out earlier this year after not winning one of three DFL nominations. Annie Young, one of the longest serving commissioners in the board’s history, chose not to run. She will have served seven terms spanning nearly three decades.

The open field has attracted many candidates, from activists and political outsiders to small business owners and Park Board volunteers.

Charlie CasserlyCHARLES CASSERLY

Neighborhood: Wenonah

Occupation: Content coordinator at Minnesota Continuing Legal Education

Relevant Experience: Executive director, Twin Cities Beach Bash; former volunteer coordinator, Minneapolis Aquatennial; ski ambassador at Hiawatha Golf Course

Endorsements: Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, Southside Pride

Website: charliecasserly.com

Mike DerusMIKE DERUS

Neighborhood: Fulton

Occupation: President and CEO of business consulting firm Fulton Partners

Relevant Experience: Board member, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership; member of the Development and Finance Committee, City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development Department; co-founder and mentor, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers’ Emerging Leaders in Community Development

Endorsements: Minneapolis Police Federation, Minneapolis Firefighters Local 82, District 8 Rep. Rick Nolan, City Council President Barbara Johnson, Park Board President and District 4 Commissioner Anita Tabb, Park Board Vice President and At-Large Commissioner John Erwin

Website: derusforparks.com 

Meg ForneyMEG FORNEY 2

Neighborhood: West Calhoun

Occupation: Realtor; Park Board commissioner at-large

Relevant Experience: One term as Park Board commissioner at-large; ex officio board member, Minneapolis Parks Foundation; executive committee, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership; chair, Park Board Planning Committee

Endorsements: Women Winning

Website: megforney.org

Londel FrenchLONDEL FRENCH

Neighborhood: Central

Occupation: Special education paraprofessional, Minneapolis Public Schools

Relevant Experience: Former Park Board employee in positions such as recreation worker to running a summer lunch program; adaptive floor hockey coach, Park Board

Endorsements: Minneapolis DFL, Stonewall DFL, Take Action MN, AFSCME Council 5, Our Revolution (Minnesota and Twin Cities chapters), Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation AFL-CIO

Website: londelfrenchforparks.com

Devin HoganDEVIN HOGAN

Neighborhood: Lyndale

Occupation: Artist studio administrator; Sea Salt seasonal worker

Relevant Experience: Master’s in International Development Practice with concentration in Population Studies, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; former historic streetcar operator at the Chain of Lakes; board member and former treasurer, Lyndale Neighborhood Association; board member, Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing

Endorsements: Minneapolis DFL, Minneapolis Professional Employees Association, Take Action MN, Stonewall DFL, Minnesota Young DFL, State Sen. Scott Dibble (District 61), State Rep. Ilhan Omar (District 60B), State Rep. Frank Hornstein (District 61A), Ward 10 Council Member Lisa Bender, District 5 Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn

Website: devinforparks.com

Jonathan HonerbrinkJonathanHonerbrink

Neighborhood: West Calhoun

Occupation: Owner of a development company

Relevant Experience: Youth football and basketball coach, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board; fundraiser for youth programming in the parks; developer and general contractor of green building and energy projects

Endorsements: Minneapolis City Republican Committee

Website: jonathanforminneapolis.com 

Russ HenryRuss Henry for Parks copy

Neighborhood: Longfellow

Occupation: Owner, organic landscaping firm Giving Tree Gardens

Relevant Experience: Co-chair, Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council; implementation team member, Park Board’s Urban Agriculture Activity Plan; facilitator in restorative justice programs; ecosystem and soil health educator

Endorsements: Minneapolis DFL, Take Action, Our Revolution, St Rep. Ilhan Omar (District 60B), Rep. Karen Clark (District 62A), Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson, Ward 9 Council Member Alondra Cano, Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon, District 5 Commissioner Brad Bourn, District 6 School Board Member Ira Jourdain, School Board President Rebecca Gagnon

Website: russhenryforparks.com

Bob SullentropBOB SULLENTROP

Neighborhood: Kingfield

Occupation: Civil engineer, ITCO Allied Engineering Co.

Relevant Experience: Attends City Council meetings; election judge

Endorsements: Minneapolis City Republican Committee

Website: bobsullentropforparkboard.com

LaTrisha VetawLaTrisha VETAW

Neighborhood: Longfellow

Occupation: Health policy and advocacy manager, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center

Relevant Experience: Board chair, Our Streets Minneapolis; co-chair, Minnesota Tobacco Free Alliance; program director, Neighborhood Bike Program; founder, Breathe Free North

Endorsements: Green Party, Women Winning, Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon, At-Large Park Board Commissioner Annie Young

Website: latrishavetawforparks.nationbuilder.com

CORRECTION: City Council Member Linea Palmisano’s name was misspelled in the original version of this story.

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