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Voters heading for the polls for the August 14 primary election will find several candidates running for the Three Rivers Park District Board in western and northern Hennepin County.
Three Rivers runs a system of 21 parks, park reserves and special areas, mostly in suburban Hennepin County, and manages an annual operating budget of about $47 million. Its board has five commissioners elected from geographic districts, and two commissioners appointed by the Hennepin County Board.
Two of the five districts have three or more candidates; the top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to November's ballot.
In District 1, James Holmbeck, Janice Meyer and Penny Steele are running against incumbent Sara Wyatt.
District 2 features Jennifer DeJournett and Rick Theisen challenging incumbent Marilynn Corcoran.
All races are nonpartisan.
All candidates were asked the same questions, and their responses were edited.
District 1 covers the western portion of the county, including Rogers, Corcoran, Rockford, Greenfield, Independence, Medina, Plymouth, Maple Plain, Long Lake, Minnetrista, Orono, Wayzata, Mound, Spring Park, Minnetonka Beach and St. Bonifacius.
Occupation: Imaging scheduling secretary for Allina Health
Experience: Hobby farm owner and avid equestrian
Previous candidacy for office: None
Reason for running: I have a strong passion and interest in serving and helping to preserve our fabulous Three Rivers Park System. My differences from other candidates may just be that I'm fresh, new and passionate.
Main issues: Economic times are tight, and the board should be responsible to stretch tax dollars and spend wisely.
Occupation: small business owner, music teacher
Experience: Former Hennepin County commissioner, chair of several metro joint powers organizations, volunteer with church and community organizations
Previous candidacy for office: Served four terms as Hennepin County commissioner, 1994-2008
Reason for running: To challenge business as usual, and to be as user-friendly as possible to the people we serve.
Main issues: How to do more with less in this difficult economy. Even in a beloved system like Three Rivers, we must jealously guard the taxpayers' money.
Experience: Teaching, management training, middle management positions with the Bell System
Previous candidacy for office: Elected Three Rivers commissioner in 2006 and re-elected in 2010
Reason for running: To provide great parks for those of all ages while keeping taxes low. Experience in guiding Three Rivers successfully through a bad economy and desire to continue that work.
Main issues: Careful budgeting during the past three years that needs to continue. Protecting our natural resources and making parks great while living within our means.
Experience: Former administrator in recycling and solid waste for Brooklyn Park and three neighboring cities; advisory board member with Metropolitan Council, Minnesota League of Cities and other groups.
Previous candidacy for office: Three Rivers Park Commissioner 1993-present; Dayton city council member 1983-84 and mayor 1985-90
Reason for running: I have a passion for the park system and experience with helping communities collaborate to ensure the best outcomes for all.
Main issues: Working better and smarter with fewer resources. We need to protect the integrity of our parks, and especially to improve water quality.
Occupation: Structural engineer
Experience: Numerous volunteer positions, including ServeMinnesota, the board for AmeriCorps in Minnesota; member of human rights commission and budget task force in Brooklyn Park; served on two committees for School Distrist 279
Previous candidacy for office: School board in 2008
Reason for running: Having a commissioner who is an engineer would be useful. As a mom of four young children, I want a fiscally secure park system. I can connect with various communities and work together to benefit the park district.
Main issues: Greater transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability, a well-defined long-term strategic plan that is communicated to the public.
Occupation: Curriculum consultant; retired Osseo High School social studies teacher
Experience: Past member of Maple Grove planning committee; past board member of Minnesota Education Association; member of panel in 2011-12 responsible for writing state social studies standards.
Previous candidacy for office: Maple Grove City Council and Three Rivers Board
Reason for running: I am the best candidate, I am not an incumbent and perhaps it is time for a change.
Main issues: Park usage has grown significantly, yet Three Rivers' revenue is decreasing. There's need to more aggressively seek matching or outright grants from state and federal sources designated for park use.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388