Downtown parks seat lures second candidate

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March 14, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Christine Hansen, a banker who works with high-net-worth clients and is a youth sports coach, is making a run for Downtown's Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board seat.

The newly drawn District 4 includes all or parts of Downtown's Loring Park, Elliot Park and North Loop, plus Southwest and North Side neighborhoods.

Hansen, 43, lives in Kenwood with husband David and her two children, 10 and 13. She starting thinking about running for Park Board last summer, while coaching her daughter's softball team.

"I found myself in various Minneapolis parks, about four or five days a week, April through September," she said. "I was beginning to get a little frustrated with what I felt was the poor quality of the conditions of the fields, the equipment, things like that were starting to bother me. I thought Minneapolis could do better."

Incumbent Vivian Mason announced in February she would not seek reelection. Mason threw her support to friend Tracy Nordstrom, a professional gardener and Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee member. Nordstrom ran for Park Board in 2001, losing to incumbent Bob Fine. (Redistricting moved Nordstrom's East Calhoun neighborhood from District 6 to District 4.)

Hansen is a vice president and relationship manager in the private client group of US Bank. She has an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, she said. In addition to coaching her daughter's soccer team, she helps coach her son's basketball team.

Hansen has early support from former 7th Ward City Councilmember Pat Scott and longtime DFLer Margit Berg, both Kenwood residents. Scott said she supports Hansen because of her experience as a youth coach and her business background in finances and team building. Scott said the oft-squabbling Park Board could use a team builder.

Said Berg: "She seems like an energetic and enthusiastic person who would come to the job with a fresh look."

Hansen is a first-time candidate. She had never attended a precinct caucus prior to March 1, she said. She and Nordstrom are seeking the DFL endorsement.

Hansen is still getting up to speed on park budgets and the impact of state aid cuts. She is concerned about the deterioration of the parks but did not know if the problem were a lack of money or whether the Park Board needed to set better priorities. It was something she wanted to investigate, she said.

Like Nordstrom, Hansen said the Park Board needed to improve communications. "Most people felt like they didn't understand what the Park Board's direction was, and it wasn't well communicated," Hansen said. "I believe that, being in business, I understand communication is key."

Hansen describes herself as an outdoor and sports enthusiast. Her family has a couple of small sailboats it sails on Lake Calhoun, she said. "We enjoy a healthy lifestyle that very much includes our parks and park facilities."

Both Hansen and her husband participate in the Lifetime Fitness Triathalon every year on Lake Nokomis, and it is something she would support as a Park Commissioner. "The parks and lakes and the facilities in Minneapolis can be and should be used for this national televised triathalon," she said. "It is great for the city. It is great for the city residents to showcase our parks in a national setting."