The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will maintain its leadership structure moving into 2019 after re-electing the board president and vice president Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Park Board President Brad Bourn (District 6) and Vice President AK Hassan (District 3) were voted back into their leadership positions by fellow commissioners despite a challenge from Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw (At Large) who was nominated for both seats.
“I believe we need a change in leadership,” Vetaw said after her nomination. “…I hope that we as a board will work better together in 2019 under whatever leadership we have.”
Bourn was re-nominated to the president role by Commissioner Chris Meyer (District 1) and won election over Vetaw on a 6-3 vote. Commissioners Steffanie Musich (District 5) nominated Vetwaw and was joined by Commissioner Meg Forney (At Large).
Musich said she nominated Vetaw because of her ability to work with other commissioners and MPRB staff.
“I believe we need someone who is going to put collaboration amongst commissioners at the center of this dais,” Musich told commissioners. “Someone who puts parks above party loyalties. And I believe Commissioner Vetaw is that leader.”
Commissioner Jono Cowgill (District 4) said Bourn had helped lead the MPRB through a banner year and that he deserves another year to serve as president.
Despite unanimous votes on key decisions to hire new MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura and approve a $124 million budget to end 2018, commissioners clashed at the end of the year over issues surrounding a lobbying consultant and representation on the board in long meetings that featured heated exchanges. On Tuesday, many commissioners voiced a willingness and hope that more cooperation would occur in 2019.
“Together I’d like us to turn the page and look to the future,” Bourn said after his nomination.
He said to do that the board should continue its campaign for youth in Minneapolis, including developing full-service campuses for kids, improving youth job programs and waiving activity fees. He called for commissioners, himself included, to put aside their personalities and work together.
“I believe our board’s best days are ahead of us,” Bourn said. “…I’d be the first to admit that we’ve often had disagreements on issues, but I think every one of the nine of us here cares for the city of Minneapolis, cares for our parks, cares for our youth and cares for our families.”
Vetaw was nominated for the vice president role by Meyer. She said that while some might see the vice president role as limited in power, she believes it to be a crucial job. She told fellow commissioners that some members of the board don’t feel represented because of the way board leadership sticks together, and said change was needed to improve board relations.
“If we don’t change it up a little bit, it’s going to get worse,” Vetaw said.
Hassan was nominated for a second year as vice president by Commissioner Londel French (At Large). Hassan said he will continue to push for better youth programs.
“I’m willing to work so that everyone has a voice in our city,” Hassan said.
He won on a 5-4 vote.
Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Ringold was reappointed as Board Secretary and Brian Rice was reappointed as the legal counsel for the Park Board.