Brad Bourn won’t seek Park Board presidency 

Brad Bourn
Southwest park commissioner Brad Bourn is stepping down from his role as president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. File photo

After two years at the helm of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, President Brad Bourn will not seek a leadership position in 2020.

Bourn, who represents most of Southwest Minneapolis in District 6, announced he would not be running for board president when officers are selected in January at the Dec. 18 Park Board meeting.

“Being the president is the most fun job I’ve ever had,” he said.

First elected in 2010, Bourn said he never saw himself leading the board, but he ascended to the presidency in 2017 after a wave election brought in six new board members.

With those members now having two years of experience under their belts, Bourn said his institutional memory is not as needed in the president’s role.

“It’s time for them to lead,” he said.

Now, he said, he wants to go back to focusing on issues in Southwest Minneapolis and dedicating more time to his work and personal life. He said he first considered not running for leadership after his father died in the spring. Bourn also serves as the executive director of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association.

“I’m looking forward to going back to advocating for my district,” he said.

Bourn’s leadership was a time of transition for the Park Board. At times, the board had bitter conflict under his presidency. He was occasionally criticized by fellow commissioners for changing agenda items late and prompting battles over items like appointments to the Park Police Advisory Council. 

He said he was most proud of guiding the transition from former superintendent Jayne Miller to current leader Al Bangoura, which included bringing in longtime MPRB leader Mary Merrill as an interim superintendent in 2018. He said his highlights were honoring Merrill by making her the namesake of the MPRB’s headquarters and supporting Bangoura’s appointment as superintendent.

“He’ll impact the Park Board for the next generation,” Bourn said.

Other major initiatives he’s led include the changing of Lake Calhoun’s name to Bde Maka Ska and the negotiations with Graco Inc. for a new park project on the Northeast riverfront. This budget season he pushed for more youth programming funding.

“Time and again, you’ve shown you’re willing to make stands on issues around justice,” Commissioner Jono Cowgill said to him.

The Park Board will elect a new president at its Jan. 2 meeting. Bourn’s term on the board goes through 2021.