Park Board incumbents facing competition

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April 23, 2013 // UPDATED 7:11 pm - April 30, 2013
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

With six weeks left until the DFL conventions, candidates are stepping up to challenge current Minneapolis Park Board commissioners.

Most notably for Southwest voters, Josh Neiman, a 29-year-old Kenny resident, is running against Brad Bourn in the Sixth Park District.

Neiman grew up in Southwest, worked as a supervisor for the Park Board during high school and college and is now seeking the DFL endorsement.

Neiman would be a third-generation Park Board commissioner if elected. His father, Scott Neiman, was a commissioner from 1982 to 2002, and his grandfather, Leonard Neiman, was a commissioner from 1967 to 1978. The Neiman Sports Complex is named after Leonard.

“I’m very proud of all that they did, but I am also working for my own opportunities to contribute,” said Neiman, who works at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters. 

Bourn was elected for the first time in 2009, securing a second ballot win over Meg Forney on a 51 percent to 42 percent split.

Bourn, 34, runs an AmeriCorps program for the Council on Crime and Justice, working with veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.

Since his election, Bourn said the Park Board has become more inclusive, improved relationships with the city and residents, planted more trees, increased inspections for aquatic invasive species and cut administrative costs.

“I believe our parks are for everyone, and I am really proud about what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said Bourn, who lives in the Kingfield neighborhood. “But I think we still have a lot to accomplish.”

The Sixth District is bounded by Lake Street to the north, 35W to the east, Highway 62 to the South and the Edina border to the west.

Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine also lives in the Sixth District, but he won one of three at-large seats in the 2009 election.

Fine has been contemplating a run for mayor, but so far has not participated in any of the mayoral forums or filed a mayoral fundraising committee. He has not said for certain if he will run for mayor, Park Board at-large or in the Sixth District, but did say he will run for office of some sort.

The race for three at-large seats also has a challenger.

Tom Nordyke, who served one term on the Park Board from 2006 to 2010, is running again. Nordyke lost his re-election bid for an at-large seat in 2009 to Fine, John Erwin and Annie Young.

Erwin later appointed Nordyke to head up the citizens advisory committee that eventually selected Lyndale Farmstead Park as the site of a new off-leash dog area that will open this summer.

Nordyke, who lives in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood, spoke highly of new superintendent Jayne Miller, and sees more cooperation on the Park Board than when he served.

He says he would focus on dealing with infrastructure and capital improvements.

“I think with the current staff and the current board, I think that’s the team to do it, and I want to go back and be a part of that,” Nordyke said.

The only current Park Board commissioner to announce she is not running is Carol Kummer, a 10-year veteran of the Park Board. The board is made up of nine members; six represent a district and three are citywide seats.

Kummer represents the Fifth District of South Minneapolis. Steffanie Musich is running unopposed so far for Kummer’s seat.