Fine won’t run for parks District 6, sees more use in citywide election

Bob Fine, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner, will not seek reelection to his District 6 seat, which he has held for almost eight years. Instead, he has entered the citywide at-large commissioner race, which already features one former and all three current at-large commissioners.

“I just think that I could go out and win a safe seat, or I could fight for an independent Park Board,” Fine said shortly after filing.

His motivations, he told the Southwest Journal, are concerns about both the city’s grasp on Park Board finances — especially in light of a referendum that will ask voters whether or not to end the current form of the tax levy-setting Board of Estimate and Taxation — and the influence of watchdog group Park Watch. Fine said he’s not been pleased with some at-large candidates’ openness to Park Watch’s work, which he said does little more than find fault with the Park Board.

Even if he doesn’t win, he said, “what’s more important is to see the Park Board not controlled by these groups I don’t think have the best interest of the Park Board in mind.”

Fine earlier this year sought the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement for District 6 but lost to newcomer Brad Bourn, who works at a nonprofit serving North Minneapolis youth. It wasn’t that outcome that led Fine to change his intentions; he said he already was thinking about the switch before the May endorsing convention.

“Even at the time, I didn’t know why I [sought the District 6 endorsement],” Fine said.

Fine has been District 6’s commissioner since he won election in 2001. Before that, he was an at-large commissioner for four years.

In the Nov. 3 election, Fine will face incumbents Mary Merrill Anderson, Tom Nordyke and Annie Young, as well as former Park Board Commissioner John Erwin. The race also features newcomers John Butler, David Wahlstedt and Nancy Bernard.

Along with Bourn, this year’s District 6 race features Realtor Meg Forney, who ran citywide in 2005; Realtor Steve Jecha; and Geneva Hanvik.

For a list of all of the candidates in the Nov. 3 election, click here.