Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
‘Board must take reins on policy’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017
By Steve Share, editor, Minneapolis Labor Review
MINNEAPOLIS — “We’re in a world of public-private partnerships; I want to make sure the park board doesn’t negotiate from a position of weakness,” says Brad Bourn.
A two-term incumbent, Bourn is seeking re-election to the District 6 seat on the Minneapolis Park Board.
He is endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and DFL Party.
District 6 lies in southwest Minneapolis, south of Lake Street and west of 35-W.
‘You need a building that’s open and you need a caring adult in that building.’
Bourn grew up in south and northeast Minneapolis and earned a masters degree in public and nonprofit administration from Metropolitan State University.
While working for the Phyliss Wheatley Community Center, he became involved in park issues in an effort to keep Bethune rec center open. Bethune served a large number of kids under age 16.
“You need a building that’s open and you need a caring adult in that building,” he says. And that concern should be a continuing park system priority, he emphasizes.
Although he’s an incumbent, proud of his record, Bourn also sees structural problems in park system governance. He notes that, unlike city council members, the part-time park board commissioners have no staff and, consequently, the superintendent of parks runs the system. “The superintendent should manage the park system but not set policy,” he maintains. Too often, he says, “we end up being a rubber stamp.”
“The board really needs to take the reins on policy,” Bourn says. “We just haven’t been doing that.”
Bourn sided with labor in opposing a 2016 vote by the park board to put the nonprofit Loppet Foundation in charge of ski and bike trails at Wirth Park.
“We had the biggest outsourcing of jobs in the history of the park system — the board wasn’t even a speed bump,” he says. “That’s wrong.”
If re-elected, Bourn says, his focus will be creating “pathways to employment at the park board.” He credits City Employees Local 363 for developing such a program.
Moving forward, the park system’s workforce needs to better reflect the city’s diverse racial composition, Bourn says.