A candidate shakeup in Park Boards 4th District

Park Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom has changed her mind: She will not seek a second term in office.

“I have a choice for 2009: Either I spend my time campaigning to keep the job I have, or I can simply, and diligently, do the work I love,” Nordstrom said in a statement last week to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “… I choose to serve the constituents who elected me, until my term ends.”

This comes a month after telling the Southwest Journal she’d “come to really love the job. As all politicians say, there is still work to be done.” But she ultimately decided she was no longer interested in the politicking of campaigning. In an e-mail, she said it was a difficult decision to make but that she looks forward to returning to a quieter life.

“I will then have the time to enjoy our parks every day as a patron and parent,” she said.

Nordstrom has been a vocal proponent of the Lakes District Council, a Southwest neighborhoods-representing group that provides input on park issues.

Most recently, she proposed the creation of a Citizen Advisory Committee to find a future for the Lake Harriet Concession, which was on the verge of getting a new tenant until Lakes District residents spoke out about not having been allowed enough input.

Up until very recently, Nordstrom’s decision not to run would have left the district without a candidate. But a Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association board member has stepped in to fill the void.

Anita Tabb, a sometimes outspoken critic of Park Board transparency, two weeks ago quietly announced she will seek the 4th District seat. After attending “almost 90 percent” of board meetings over the past two years as a constituent, she said now seemed like a good time to get involved.

“I’m just at the point in my life where I have the time to do this,” Tabb said.

She’s no stranger to Park Board issues. When complaints rolled in about parks staff’s communication with Park Board commissioners over plans at Parade Stadium, Tabb was one of the main voices. Most recently, she spoke out at a board meeting about the lack of citizen input on the Lake Calhoun south shore parking lot project. It’s communication and transparency — whether it’s between the Park Board and citizens or between parks staff and commissioners — that she said she’d most like to see improve.

“I don’t mean to belittle anything that’s done now,” she said, “but I think there are things we can do to tighten up.”

Tabb is a 5-year resident of Lowry Hill and, according to her website, has been an activist for equal rights, women’s rights and the environment. Recently asked by the Hill Lake Press about what she thought of a proposal up for public input that would eliminate the independent Park Board, she said she welcomed the debate.

“The result, whatever it is, will provide citizens with a stronger foundation going forward,” Tabb said. “That being said, I don’t think that we would even be having this discussion if many of the transparency and public process issues didn’t exist.”

(Note: This story has been revised to correct information about how long Tabb has lived in Lowry Hill.)