- Brad Bourn
- Bob Fine
- Robert Schlosser
- Jennifer Zielinski (did not respond to questionnaire)
Please share a little about yourself to help voters get to know you.
I’m proud to be the DFL and Labor endorsed candidate for reelection in District 6 (Southwest Minneapolis). Serving on the Park Board has been incredibly rewarding and humbling. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done, from creating a sustainable funding plan for neighborhood parks, preserving the independence of the park board, improving neighborhood playgrounds, investing in a new regional park along the riverfront, and so much more. I’m also humbled by the work left to do. Minneapolis leads the nation in racial disparities and need to address those disparities through the Park Board.
Real Estate attorney. Four term (16 year) Park Commissioner, first elected in 1997, served as both President & Vice President, chaired Planning & Recreation committees; 16 years on Board of Estimate & Taxation, served as President; Minneapolis Civil Rights Commissioner, served 18 years (longest in city history); Minneapolis Zoning Board, 2 years; Middle Mississippi Watershed Management Commissioner; St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board member, served 10 years; Southwest Activities Council board, serving 21 years including as its chair; Linden Hills Neighborhood Council, including serving as Vice Chair; past Board member of Minneapolis Childrens Theatre and Minneapolis Institute of Arts; including many other Boards & Committees. Coached youth in Minneapolis, consecutively over past 43 years, in softball, baseball, basketball, soccer & volleyball. Represented Minnesota on NRPA (National Recreation & Park Association) Citizen Advisory council. Lifetime Minneapolis resident, graduate of Southwest High School. Employed by Minneapolis Park Board as lifeguard and Manager during summers in college. Competitive swimmer.
I’am a life long resident of So Mpls. I went to Incarnation School till 3rd grade then my family moved to 51st and Nicollet and I attended Page School, Ramsey Junior High & Graduated Washburn High School. I then studied at Metropolitan State Junior College & received an Associate of Arts Degree. Then I attended Mankato State University and was awarded a B.S. degree in Recreation Park Administration and Community Education. During that time I studied Tae Kwon Do “The Korean Martial art” and became a Instructor That was my part time Job while attending College and University. After Graduation I tried finding work in the Recreation field. Jobs were not plentiful. So I opened my own Tae Kwon Do Institute. I did that full time for Five years. After my Daughter was born I applied to the Hennepin County Sheriffs Office and was Hired at a Deputy Sheriff and Retired in 2009 after 30 years on the Job.
I am Married and have two Adult Children and one 8 Month old Grand Daughter.
I enjoy Table tennis Golf & Tennis. I reside in a House Built and owned by a famous resident of Mpls. Architect and former Park Commissioner Harry Wild Jones. An associate of Theodore Wirth. From 1993 till 2009 I operated a Bed & Breakfast in the Historic Elmwood House where My Wife and I now live. History of this city and the appreciation for the beauty and excellence of the Park System is in my Blood.
I want to leave a legacy for my Children and Grand Children.
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?
I helped define the priorities in the NPP20 plan. There was originally no discussion of a racial equity metric to prioritize spending. I pushed hard for the inclusion of this metric and am proud that it is a core component of the plan. We must address historic underinvestment in racially concentrated areas of poverty. My opponent says he doesn’t want to see Southwest Minneapolis “be denied the appropriate improvements.” Look around- Southwest had disproportionate investments for more than a century, contributing to racial disparities. Advancing racial equity is recognizing this- I made sure the NPP20 plan does.
Yes. The agreement and methodology are important to the functioning of the system.
Equity and fairness for all are a Major plank in my Campaign.
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?
Please see my response to question 2. Minneapolis has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation. Ensuring that new capital funding in the NPP20 plan is weighted favorably towards communities that have had historic underinvestment and weighted towards racially concentrated areas of poverty is something that I fought for in the criteria. Where we invest in our parks, we see growth in other areas as well. While the NPP20 plan will help us invest more equitably in infrastructure, we must work holistically to ensure we are investing in people as well. This means the Park Board must work to diversify its workforce revising old hiring policies that put communities of color at systemic disadvantages when applying for jobs at the Park Board, overturning systemically discriminatory ordinances and policies like “spitting and lurking” rules, increasing investments in employment programs like the Conservation Corps that gives young people of color exposure to careers in the trades and ensure that the Minneapolis Park Police have increased training in de-escalation technics and that our new body cameras are always turned on.
The MPRB has been working of the inequities and opportunity gaps in Minneapolis since I first was elected to the Board. I have had an active role in promoting improvements and addressing the major needs of the system accordingly. My background in Civil Rights and knowledge of the city and the system played a key role in providing programming and making improvements to parks in the city where the gaps exists. The Park Board plays a key role in combating inequities, especially as it deals with youth and of course, the future of Minneapolis. The pros and cons assuring equitable improvement will be challenged by continuing changes in the city and the various needs of the infrastructure, which has been in need of funding for such a long period of time. Consistent with my past actions, I will support all feasible actions to improve equity in the system.
I Support the current agreement. All Parks should share in the 11Million.
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?
While investment along the riverfront is critically important, if we do not take a holistic approach, we risk gentrifying North Minneapolis and displacing folks who have called the North Side their home for generations. Park Board investments must be hand-in-hand with other community investments that break down barriers to home ownership on the North Side for communities of color. If the Park Board works in coordination with community land trusts and neighborhood development corporations, we can help to ensure that communities of color can purchase homes on the Northside before property values begin to rapidly increase as a result of River First developments. Home ownership is one of the most effective ways of passing down intergenerational wealth in communities.
My past achievements illustrate the actions I have taken to developing the north Mississippi Riverfront. This started with my development, despite opposition, of the location of the permanent headquarters of the Park Board to its location from rented facilities downtown. In addition, it resulted in great cost savings to the system. Locating there made a statement that we are a park system on the River (and was locating in North Minneapolis for the first time). We then relocated located our Park Police from the south side. Then I negotiated the purchase of the lumber yard site, which was of extreme importance to establishing the River front. I was integral to the negotiating and purchase of other real estate sites and have promoted completion of purchase of river front property. I was on the original Board on the River Front. With a background as a real estate attorney, I have promoted the importance to north Minneapolis, both as to economic opportunity, for jobs and homes. I will continue to promote this and ensure neighborhoods will benefit as does the whole city.
I support the River First view. However I need to take a long look at the cost of transforming this Industrial area into Park Land. There may be Pollution problems that turn this plan in a Budget Buster.
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?
When entering into public-private partnerships, too often, the public entity negotiates from a position of weakness. While many of the partnerships the Park Board has entered into have been effective, they have come at a real cost to the public good. In the case of Wirth Winter Recreation, the Park Board initiated the largest outsourcing of public jobs in the history of the Park Board- giving up assurances to living wage jobs. In the case with the Minnesota Vikings/MSFA, the Park Board failed to exercise its leverage to insist that the new stadium install bird-safe reflective glass as a condition of making a deal on the Commons Downtown space. In the case of the downtown woonerf- the Park Board gave a $60K subsidy to build a gate around a private green space that was sold to the board as being available for public use. The Park Board can and should have very productive private partnerships but we must first and foremost be committed to maintaining the public good and preserving the independence of the Minneapolis Park Board. This means taking more than a “bottom line” approach. I will advocate for partnerships that preserve park users’ rights, protect living wage jobs and preserve our environment.
Public/private partnerships are important to the vitality of this great system. I was the developer for the system of the Neiman Athletic complex by Fort Snelling and got the Fred Wells Center located there. The park eateries were my idea, starting with Tin Fish and have proved so profitable (in millions of dollars over said time) in areas here the park system usually operated at a loss. The park system gets better service, has a say in what the park system is doing and gets better products.
I support the Ecological plan.
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?
While it is easy to point to large environmental initiatives that I’ve supported to stop the privatization of St. Antony Falls by opposing Crown Hydro, expand park acquisitions above the falls, increase our commitment to the tree canopy, and work towards the restoration of Hall’s Island, I am very proud of some of the less visible environmental issues on the Park Board that I have personally championed and will continue to advocate for, including:
Encouraging up front capital investments in rec centers that will drive down long term operating costs. This approach will improve the efficiency of our energy consumption while enabling us to save money that can be diverted to recreational programming for at-risk youth.
Advocating for a moratorium on crumb rubber synthetic turf and the elimination of Glyphosate in parks.
Proposing policies to reduce and eliminate bottled water from Park Board vending machines and requiring more tap water at Park Board events through imposing environmental impact fees on vendors like Coca-Cola for every bottle sold in a vending machine.
Enacting strong erpolicies to protect our lakes and rivers from aquatic invasives through restricting lock use and requiring all boats using lake boat launches to be inspected for aquatic invasives.
Expanding a partnership with the Minnesota Conservation corps to help us battle invasive species, plant additional trees and teach Minneapolis youth green job skills to prepare them to enter the work force.
Leading and expanding the effort in the use of grazing animals to combat buckthorn and other invasives in regional parks.
I would continue the close work I had with staff on environmental priorities for the entire park system, land and water. As a promoter of the wetlands and improved water quality nearly two decades ago, I was a member of Clean Water Partnership and worked closely with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, among others. We must continue with improving water quality while continuing to deal with invasive species and reducing the need for chemicals.
I’am in favor of Public and private partnership
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?
The Park Board is one of the largest out of school time providers in the State of Minnesota. Commissioners sets policy, while our staff do the yeoman’s work of providing excellent serving and being the caring adults our youth see every day.
We must continue to operate and fully staff all of our rec centers. There is a push to move to more registration based programming but I believe this will take too many adults away from our buildings and parks to be available when a troubled youth drops in.
We need to invest in more multi-lingual, culturally competent and adaptive-recreation trained staff. We still have a long way to go in serving communities that have not traditionally engaged in park programming.
Given our current political climate, the Park Board should phase out the collection of personal information of parents for their children to participate. Undocumented families are finding themselves in positions where they fear filling out government forms- every child should be able to participate in park programming without fear of the collateral consequences of filling out a registration form.
The Park Board should reinstall the full-court basketball courts that were removed from parks over the last 2-3 decades. There is real, coded, systemically racist messaging that comes from the removal of full court basketball courts in Minneapolis.
We also need to invest in more soccer fields for youth.
As a member of the RecQuest Panel, we are in an ever changing drive to the meet the needs and interests of changing community. This will continue to be a work in progress and staff must be engaged to move the system in an equitable manner. The park commissioners must work together with staff to continue to evolve. My long background in recreation, coaching 43 years, is a great resource to continue working toward these goals.
I think it will be to everyone’s advantage to add and encourage more Life Sports for the Women and Girls of our community. Self Defense classes. Aerobic & dance plus Yoga class.
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?
We do have the best park system in the country. That said, our parks do not work well for everyone who calls Minneapolis home. I hope that the Trust for Public Land begins developing a racial equity matrix for investment, policies and programs. Currently their matrix primarily involved per capita spending and proximity/quantity of amenities.
My top 3 priorities
1) Repair the relationships the Park Board has with many communities of color and organizations working to advance racial equity. I believe the Park Board is doing some excellent work in this area but because we are overly defensive about constructive criticism, we often find ourselves in antagonistic relationships with individuals and organizations that we need to cultivate as allies.
2) Defend St. Anthony Falls and the rest of our park system from privatization. While public-private partnerships will likely be on the increase, we need to hold the line on privatization and oppose projects like “Crown Hydro” that will effectively sell off the fall and we must ensure that the Park Board negotiates from a position of strength when private entities are looking to monetize the value of our public parks.
3) Protect our youth and families from toxins and unsustainable environmental practices. The Park Board should stop using Glyposate in our parks and place a moratorium and toxic crumb rubber synthetic turf
The focus should not be on an award and the criteria that make it up. The citizens of this great metro area, which all benefit from our park system, do not get a benefit from a top ranking. Unless affirming we are the best system, actually makes a difference. After all, the only reason this system, which had such an early, good start, is that TPL only considered cities of a certain size. When the list was expanded, we immediately went to the front of the line. As a two decade Commissioner, I have had a major role in where this system is. But this system has a history since 1884 and will continue to evolve. As the Minnesota representative on the NRPA council, it is easy to see why we are the number one system, but that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. It is not as important to try and score, as it is just to improve on our system. We are not just trying to get a rating, but to improve on our system. My priorities are to improve recreation and have the system offer as much as it can to everyone. We must maintain both our system and our waters and urban forest, while not making it so expensive for citizens to live here.
I don’t think the Park system should be involved in the question of Affordable Housing. WE should coordinate with the metro Transit so after school transport to Park Activity can be made convenient and safe.
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?
I believe I addressed much of this question in my previous responses.
The Park Board should work on future developments in a holistic manner with local land trusts and neighborhood development corporations to ensure that communities of color have the ability to purchase homes near new park investments before those park investment drive up property values.
The Park Board can and should provide a massive jobs training program for young adults looking to enter into careers in the trades. The Park Board can work with our unions as well as employment readiness organizations to build apprenticeship projects that allow for on-the-job training opportunities on public works projects alongside our skilled labor.
The Park Board’s trail system was originally created a recreation bike trail system but we need to realize that it plays an ever increasing role as a commuter trail system. Beyond working with city planning to increase trail connections, we need to look to policy reforms that make our trails more connected to the city’s bikeways including being more friendly to NiceRide station placement, creating more dedicated bike lanes on Minneapolis Parkways and making our parks more accessible to transit users.
This is a city of lakes and parks. So many live in the city because of its park system. The quality of parks is the primary role of the Park Board. But how the Board leads in that direction, may affect all other parts of the city. It can have a part of equity and achievement. The city council and Mayor have the power to address the other issues, and will work with the parks where their contribution is needed.
The Park boards Job is to provide Quality Parks.