District 2


  • Kale Severson
  • Mike Tate

1. Introduction:

Please share a little about yourself to help voters get to know you.

Kale Severson
My name is Kale Severson, and I’m committed to building capacity in our community to improve the everyday emerging needs in North Minneapolis. I want to ensure our parks are the number one system for all users including people of color and young people. I am committed to improving hiring practices to reflect our diverse communities. I have a proven track record of working in and for our community and will remain committed as the next District 2 park commissioner.

Mike Tate
My name is Coach Mike “Talley” Tate and I’m born, bred and been coaching since the age of 17 in the city of North Minneapolis. My family migrated to the state of MN in the mid-1800’s from Kentucky. We are affectionately known as a family that derived from a group called the “First 85” who lived in Fergus Falls, MN.

I’ve always had a passion for coaching, and aspired over the years to coach as many young children, (boys and girls) that I could reach, and that number is sure to be in the high 100’s near 1000.

2. NPP2020 funding agreement

The Neighborhood Parks Plan 2020 (NPP2020) is a historic agreement between the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis bringing $11M annually to maintain, repair and replace neighborhood park facilities. A comprehensive equity matrix will be used to allocate the funds in order to help address racial and economic equity across all 160 neighborhood parks. As a commissioner, would you support the current agreement and methodology for allocation of the funds?

Kale Severson
Yes. I think it’s important that we have Northside voices when it comes to determining where capital investments go every year. It’s important to make sure we are discussing sustainability and investing in green technologies. The community engagement piece of the NPP2020 plan will be an important part of making sure Northside residents have access to an equitable park system.

Mike Tate
Yes, as a commissioner I will support the NPP2020 plan, the current agreement and the methodology for allocation of the funds. I have been attending park board meetings over the last four (4) years, and I was a part of the committee that was successful in solidifying the agreement of which I will continue to follow the agreement plans.

I desire to implement changes over the next 4 years that would be crucial to the success of our kids, seniors and the environment in our #1 park system. Those changes would be in the development of our building’s (exterior/interior) as needed, as well as programming for all.

3. Equity-based criteria for prioritizing investments

Few would dispute that historical inequities and opportunity gaps persist in America and Minneapolis today. What role, if any, do you think that the MPRB should play in combatting these inequities? What are the pros and cons of MPRB’s equity-based matrix assuring equitable improvement of neighborhood parks as the 20-year funding plan is implemented? As a commissioner, what actions will you support that will actively improve equity in the Minneapolis Park system?

Kale Severson
As a Northside resident and a concerned community member, I have a great deal of investment when equity is discussed. It’s imperative that the park board takes a role in identifying equity issues and remains committed to being an ally to communities that are struggling with equity issues. The pros for the equity-based metric will help communities specifically in my district with programming dollars. We have a high need to address finding spaces and places for our teens. One con might possibly be other communities will not receive funding that may have been allocated for their neighborhood park because there is a higher need in specific neighborhoods. As the next District 2 commissioner, I will hold our superintendent accountable to use the equity based metric to ensure funding is allocated to parks with high needs. I will build capacity within our newly elected board to champion these values to provide strength based programming in our struggling communities.

Mike Tate
The role that the MPRB should play in combatting inequities would consist of the following:

  1. Actively solicit input from the community, (individuals, groups/organizations) that have identified perceived issues
  2. Look at those issues that have been identified and define the most crucial
  3. Brainstorm viable ways to solve the issues with these groups
  4. Implementing a well thought out plan that will ensure success. A plan that will also have a succession plan in place at every milestone that could be hindered.

Pro’s of the MPRB’s equity-based matrix assuring equitable improvement would be:

  • MPRB took a look at the whole system and identified where the most need is as it relates to economic disparities.
  • MPRB will approach most needed buildings and parks first in the system.
  • MPRB will ensure access to facilities for all of its constituents in Minneapolis.

Con’s of the MPRB’s equity based matrix assuring equitable improvement would be:

  • Currently, I have no knowledge whether there is a contingency that protects the agreement.

4. Commitment to the RiverFirst vision

While the Mississippi Riverfront is lined with parkland and public spaces through the Central Riverfront and Lower Gorge, North and Northeast Minneapolis have been cut off from and by the River because of the limited public access in the upper riverfront area. As a commissioner, how would you approach the community developed RiverFirst vision for transforming this segment of the river with new parks and trails as amenities to accessible jobs and homes in this area? What are your approaches to ensuring that nearby neighborhoods fully benefit from its development?

Kale Severson
The key word here that is currently lacking is accessibility. I want to see access for Northside residents to the Mississippi River, as well as to Bassett and Shingle Creeks. Northside residents must have a seat and voice at the table when decisions are being made as how to approach North Harbor Terminal. I will continue to improve the communication with residents through email, social media, and general outreach through recreation centers and neighborhood events. I will work with other elected officials at the city, county, and state levels to make sure affordable housing and long term jobs are going to Northside and POC residents.

Mike Tate
Bringing communities together is a strategy for healthy relationships within the whole city. My approach to ensuring that nearby neighborhoods fully benefit from the proposed developments that have and continue to be fleshed out over the last 6 years would be to focus on bridging gaps as it relates to the historical sense of all surrounding communities that will and should have access. There’s always an opportunity for people to learn about each other, and activities that harness that aspect would be my approach. I would work with park staff to assist in developing activities that include the community coming together to meet each other, or even monuments that teach the rich history of all communities.

5. Role of innovative public/private partnerships in the Mpls park system

Due to ever-reducing public funding and a need for specialized expertise, there has been a trend over the past fifteen years of the Park Board leveraging public-private partnerships to better serve the public. These partnerships include in-park eateries like Sea Salt and Sand Castle, the Fred Wells Tennis Center, the Walker Sculpture Garden, Mintahoe Catering, and most recently, the redevelopment of Theodore Wirth Park through a partnership with the Loppet Foundation. With the redevelopment of the upper-riverfront, new park spaces through Parkland Dedication Ordinance requirements, and potential opportunities through the Urban Agriculture Activity Plan there are opportunities for more public-private partnerships.

What are your views on these public-private partnerships? What roles do public partnerships play in activating and funding existing and future park operations? How is public interest protected, and how is community engaged?

Kale Severson
This is a tough subject because we want to make sure all of our residents have the opportunity to participate in activities they enjoy and that we have free or affordable programs available to all. We also want to make sure that we’re not trading good union jobs for lower paying jobs. I believe we can be successful serving our community building off of some of these partnerships if we are transparent, intentional, and judicious. We must be careful not to leave the taxpayers on the hook if any private agency closes, and we must hold our private collaborators to the same standard of accessibility that I hope to elevate to the highest level possible at our parks.

Mike Tate
Partnerships are needed, however they should be vetted and investigated one-by-one to see if it’s a true fit for the MPRB.

Current partnerships are limited and more public/public relationships should be considered, (i.e. MPRB/ Minneapolis Public Schools, or MPRB/MPS/City of Minneapolis).

Community should be included in these partnerships before any final decisions or plans are made. The ultimate goal is that although they participate in the process, that homeowners would not have to pay taxes because of these vetted partnerships.

6. Strategies to addresses climate sustainability and improving park ecosystem

With growing impacts of climate change, managing the park eco-system has become more and more important over the past several years. As a commissioner, how would you work with staff to establish environmental priorities for parkland. Do you have any specific climate change/environmental priorities that you would promote beyond those outlined in the Ecological System Plan?

Kale Severson
In North Minneapolis and North Loop, we have many climate and environmental justice issues such as breathability, clean air, and clean. Communities of color and those living in poverty have been historically exposed to higher rates of lead, nitrogen oxide, and other pollutants at a higher rate than their neighbors. As we know Northern Metals is leaving because of the latest lawsuit filed, and we as a community are still trying to decide how the funding allocated from the lawsuit should be spent. We should be working on solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling in our parks to reduce our carbon footprint and become more self sustaining. We need to play a larger role in our watershed districts and find a way to involve and engage more Northside residents.

Mike Tate
This is a very important subject matter in which Tate for Parks plans to do a more in-depth hardline study to determine the best approach to handling the climate change/environmental priorities.

7. RecQuest and programming

How well do you think the MPRB meets the needs and interests of our diverse and changing community regarding sports and other youth programming? If you think it’s out of balance, how would you propose to make it more equitable? What is the role of a park commissioner vs. staff in this regard?

Kale Severson
RecQuest is a work in progress involving community members, and I believe the park board understood it had issues meeting the needs of our community. This is an opportunity for outreach and a way for our community to have a voice at the table. Commissioners play an important role working with staff under the support of the community to ensure we are serving the emerging needs of our community. I believe a solid partnership is an important role both sides will play to ensure we build a more equitable system.

Mike Tate
Minneapolis Park & Recreation staff should be trained to be a part of the programming solution(s) in the Minneapolis Park System. Currently, the Minneapolis Park System depends on volunteers for its programming inside of District-2. These relationships are not solid. My role as commissioner would be to identify and assist in implementing programs that will work inside our recreation system using the existing staff to carry out the functions of those programs.

8. Vision – Top 3 priorities for next 4 years for district / citywide not being addressed

For the past five years the Trust for Public Land has determined that Minneapolis has the best park system in the nation. Do you agree with this assessment? By what criteria do you hope the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board is measured in the next four years and what steps do you see necessary to ensure that the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board scores highly within those areas? What are your top priorities for the next four years?

Kale Severson
We may win the title of best parks but over and over again we also “win” at having the greatest disparities so those “best parks” and best park experiences are only for some residents of our city. Over and over my community gets left behind. Northsiders, people of color, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, people traditionally disenfranchised all deserve equal access and accommodation to be able to benefit from our great park system. This is not currently the case and until we evaluate our park system from that lens, we are doing a great disservice. The criteria must include affordability for those living in poverty, accessibility for seniors, and accommodations for those with disabilities, equity, and environmental sustainability.

Mike Tate

  1. Minneapolis Park System should work to become a safer/greener park system for our families and kids to enjoy.
  2. MPS should work to become #1 in park system programming in our neighborhood parks.
  3. Ensure that people of color, (POC) in our community have an opportunity to share in the job pools needed to build a diverse working culture.

9. Balancing Priorities

Our evolving and growing community has a series of needs to be addressed, including affordable housing, connected and affordable multi-modal transportation system, strong employment base, quality parks and public realm, equity and achievement gaps. What is the role of MPRB in these issues, how do the issues interrelate, and as Commissioner, how would you prioritize and balance them in your work?

Kale Severson
I’m proud to have been endorsed by our current Minneapolis School Board Chair, Vice Chair, as well as North Minneapolis’ School Board Director. This is because I believe strongly in working across systems to make sure our youth and our community have the best possible resources and opportunities. Wrap around services are proven to work especially for youth and families in challenging situations. The more we partner with our schools, housing, transit, and community organizations, the more we will be able to interrupt the prison pipeline, transform trauma into repair, revolutionize policing into engagement, and mentor disenfranchised youth to emerge as committed community members.

Mike Tate
Work with partners, (i.e. school board, city council) on the issues that affect the whole city in the following order of importance:

1. Employment allows for housing needs to be met, keeping people in their homes or rental homes within our city and contributing to its economic vitality.

2. Affordable housing within city would allow MPRB and Public School System to serve more children and families.

3. Promote partnerships between Minneapolis Public Schools and MPRB that will expand learning opportunities for the youth of our community.

4. Public transportation is important for several reasons:

  • It’s safer than everyone having a vehicle on the road – more fatalities are likely.
  • People who use public transportation gets exercise and more likely healthier than others because of getting the physical activity it takes to use it.
  • Allows for residents of Minneapolis who can’t find employment within the city to branch outside for opportunities.