Forney announces she’ll remain in Park Board race

Park Board incumbent Meg Forney announced she will continue to run for her seat despite not garnering the DFL endorsement earlier this year.

Forney, a first-term at-large commissioner on the nine-member Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said she submitted more than 900 signatures — more than the necessary 500 — in place of a filing fee to put her name on the ballot this fall. The last-minute move came just before the Tuesday, Aug. 15, deadline to file as a candidate for this election season.

DFL delegates threw their support behind at-large candidates Devin Hogan, Londel French and Russ Henry at the party’s convention in July.

The three citywide candidates are part of a wave of first-time candidates and new faces looking to fill several empty seats left by incumbents on the Park Board. President Anita Tabb (District 4), Vice President John Erwin (at-large), At-Large Commissioner Annie Young and District 2 Commissioner Jon Olson did not run for re-election this year.

Forney is the only incumbent running this year who is not abiding by the DFL endorsement. District 1 Commissioner Liz Wielinski, who ran for re-election for her seat representing Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, confirmed she’s no longer running. District 3 Commissioner Scott Vreeland, who was running for an at-large seat this year, released a statement in July saying he ended his candidacy.

Mike “Talley” Tate, a longtime coach and volunteer with the Park Board, continues to vie for the District 2 seat, a spokesperson confirmed. The DFL nominated Kale Severson for the seat representing North Minneapolis and part of the North Loop neighborhood.

Both Tate and Forney said at the convention that they would abide by the party’s nomination.

Tate said after talking with community members he came to the decision to continue running due to about four decades working as a volunteer in Minneapolis parks.

“I earned the right to run whether I was endorsed or unendorsed,” he said.

In an announcement sent to supporters, Forney criticized Our Revolution, the Sen. Bernie Sanders-inspired group whose supporters nominated a majority of the Park Board candidates who won the party’s nomination, for not endorsing a single woman. The lack of women represented in the endorsements “does not reflect my values nor the values of the DFL,” she said.

“With the retirement of fellow [c]ommissioners Anita Tabb, Liz Wielinski, and Annie Young, we need strong, experienced female voices now more than ever,” Forney said.

In a statement, Kevin Chavis, chair of Our Revolution Twin Cities, said Forney did not apply for their endorsement.

“Our Revolution would love to see more women, especially women of color, run for public office. Meg Forney can join us in recruiting and electing women leaders at all levels of public office,” he said.

Steffanie Musich, the incumbent commissioner from District 5, is the only woman running for a Park Board seat this year that the DFL endorsed. Our Revolution did not endorse her.

Brad Bourn, an incumbent in District 6 supported by Our Revolution, won the DFL nomination.

With just a couple other incumbents on the ballot this year, Forney said in an interview that a potential loss of institutional knowledge also played into her decision to continue running.

Nine seats up for grabs

There are competitive races for each seat on the board this year.

Mike Derus, Charlie Casserly and LaTrisha Vetaw are also running for the board’s three at-large seats. Jonathan Honerbrink, formerly a Republican Minneapolis mayoral candidate, announced in July that he would run instead for an at-large seat on the Park Board. Bob Sullentrop is another Republican-endorsed candidate for the citywide seats.

For District 1, Green Party-backed Billy Menz, Mohamed Issa Barre and DFL-endorsed Chris Meyer are running to represent all of Minneapolis on the east side of the Mississippi River.

Tate and Severson are the only candidates running to represent District 2.

DFL delegates failed to nominate a candidate for the District 3 seat, which encompasses the Cedar-Riverside, Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods. AK Hassan and Abdi Gurhan Mohamed — two candidates that clashed for the nomination — are running to represent District 3. Charles Exner, a Green Party candidate, recently joined the race.

Jono Cowgill, a DFL-endorsed candidate, and Tom Nordyke are running to represent District 4, which stretches from Downtown East to the Lake of the Isles and part of Lake Calhoun.

Bill Shroyer and Andrea Fahrenkrug are taking on Musich for the District 5 seat representing the area surrounding Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis.

Bourn, who represents Southwest Minneapolis, will square off this fall against challengers Bob Schlosser, Republican-backed candidate Jennifer Zielinski and former Park Board commissioner Bob Fine in the race for District 6.

Members of the non-partisan Park Board are elected to four-year terms and are paid $12,438 plus benefits each year. A president elected by fellow commissioners leads the board and receives $13,852 annually.

Voters will take to the polls this year on Nov. 7.

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