Voter's Guide: Park Board District 1 & 4

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October 16, 2013
By: Mitch Skinner & Dylan Thomas
Mitch Skinner & Dylan Thomas

District 1: Northeast 

>> Liz Wielinski

Wielinski says she wants to get creative in funding development of the Upper Riverfront parks. She wants to explore federal grants in her second term as Commissioner for District 1. She also wants to engage immigrant communities in Minneapolis by offering “diverse recreational and athletic opportunities.” Wielinski is running for reelection unopposed.

Neighborhood: Northeast/University

Current Job: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Vice President

Past experience: Wielinski served on the MPRB since January 2010. She focused on land acquisition and developing new parks on the Upper Riverfront. Prior to her time in office, Wielinski co-founded Minneapolis Park Watch, a watchdog blog focused on the Park Board.

Top Priorities: Finding funding to create and maintain parks in the Upper Riverfront. She says she wants to get a park on the former Scherer Bros. Lumber Co. site “on its legs and built.”

Her pitch: She will advocate for new riverfront parks. 

Website: www.Lizforparks.com

District 4: Downtown, Chain of Lakes neighborhoods  

>> Anita Tabb [incumbent]

At the time Anita Tabb first noticed, with a glance out the back window of her Lowry Hill home, the heavy equipment parked on the old Parade Stadium grounds, she didn’t even know there was a Park Board.

But it was that glance that sparked an interest in park operations for Tabb, then a relative newcomer to Minneapolis. She became affiliated with Park Watch, a citizen group pushing for more Park Board transparency — a group that harshly criticized former superintendent Jon Gurban for a lack of daylight on the Parade Stadium project — and was one of three new commissioners swept into office in 2009.

Tabb said she’s been an advocate for community projects, keeping the pressure on to complete a reconstruction of Parade Parkway and voting in favor of a major overhaul of Parade Ice Garden. She said she doesn’t back plans for a Chinese Friendship Garden in Washburn Fair Oaks Park because of “tepid” support among neighbors.

But Tabb said she’s most proud of the Park Board’s steps toward “true community outreach and involvement.”

“To me, that’s really important,” she said.

Neighborhood: Lowry Hill

Current Job: District 4 Park Board commissioner

Past experience: Four years on Park Board

Top priorities: Improved customer service, tree replacement and responsible spending

Her pitch: Tabb say she’s helping to develop the “new culture of the Park Board,” one that is more open and transparent 

Website: www.anita4parks.com

>> Bobby Davis

For Bobby Davis, the best kind of Park Board commissioner is one who is a daily user of Minneapolis’ parks and trails — which is exactly how he describes himself.

It bugs Davis to see maintenance issues go neglected for months or even years, like potholes in trail pavement that get marked with blaze orange paint but never repaired. If elected, he’d direct more funding to park and trail maintenance.

“We don’t have money to be spending on friendship gardens and things like that,” he said, referring to the proposed Chinese Friendship Garden some would like to see built in Washburn Fair Oaks Park in Whittier.

Davis said the Park Board is best served by commissioners who maintain connections with constituents and don’t turn their service into a long-term job. Reminded that his opponent in the District 4 race has only served one term, Davis said four years would be enough for him.

“I’d like to bring something fresh,” he said. “I think when people have been there so long, they’ve stopped listening to the people.”

Neighborhood: East Calhoun

Current job: Maker

Park experience: Regular park user

Top priorities: Targeting more funding to park and trail maintenance

His pitch: “Vote for somebody who’s fresh and new”

Website: votebobbydavis.com