In front of a standing-room-only crowd, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board elected veteran Commissioner Brad Bourn as its president Tuesday night.
Two months after re-election to the Sixth District, which includes Lake Harriet and other parks in southwest Minneapolis, Bourn won the leadership position 6-3, calling the victory the "honor of my life."
"We are in a great moment in history in the Minneapolis Park Board," he said, praising the diversity of the board, which has six new members. He promised to start work strengthening the parks system by building greater partnerships with public schools, creating equal access to parks for the city's diverse population and advocating for park workers' rights.
"I believe this new board is up to all of these tasks and more," he said.
One fellow commissioner, Steffanie Musich, came out strongly against Bourn before the vote, publicly accusing him of pandering and lying for political gain in his time on the board.
"I see the skill with which you have woven a kernel of truth into a complex web of lies and misrepresentations to further your political ambitions and aspirations," she said.
Bourn ignored the criticisms publicly and said afterward he did not think past bad blood would get in the way of the board functioning properly as a whole moving forward.
"I'm the president of all the commissioners, not just the ones that agree with me," he said.
Commissioners Jono Cowgill, Londel French, Abdikadir "AK" Hassan, Chris Meyer and Kale Severson supported Bourn for president. Meg Forney and LaTrisha Vetaw joined Musich in voting against Bourn.
Bourn replaces Park Board President Anita Tabb, who did not run for re-election. One of his first orders of business is the search for a new superintendent, following Jayne Miller's announcement last month that she would resign in February. He said he hopes to have a new superintendent by October and will introduce a resolution to name former superintendent Mary Merrill Anderson to fill the position in the interim.