Minneapolis Park Board
Minneapolis teacher and coach
Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 16, 2021
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
MINNEAPOLIS —”We need to depoliticize the Park Board,” says Billy Menz. “Parks should be something we all rally behind… It’s consensus building.”
Menz is making a second run for the District 1 seat on the Minneapolis Park Board, which represents northeast and southeast Minneapolis.
Menz is a teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools and a member of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. He has been endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
Four years ago, Menz came in second in the race. This year, incumbent Chris Meyer is not seeking re-election and Menz is running unopposed.
As a teacher, Menz says, he would bring a valuable perspective to the Park Board and one of his priorities will be to strengthen the partnership between the park system and the school system. “We work in silos right now or we try to punt the football back and forth to each other,” he notes.
Football metaphors aside, Menz has volunteered as a youth baseball coach in the parks. He advocates for better-preparing youth athletes for high school sports and for drawing on the expertise of the club teams that exist for many sports.
Engaging all the city’s youth in the parks is critical, Menz says. “When kids are accessing nature, activities and social connections in our parks, they are safer than when they’re inside stuck to their screens.”
Menz grew up in the Chicago suburbs, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and earned a Masters Degree at Hamline University in St. Paul.
An ELS teacher, Menz now has worked 12 years for the Minneapolis Public Schools, currently at Edison High School. “I’ve been a steward in the past and I’ve been on the bargaining team in the past,” he says. “Labor is always in the forefront of my mind.”