Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President John Erwin and six-term Commissioner Annie Young appeared headed toward re-election Tuesday, with frequent challenger Meg Forney and former board President Tom Nordyke in a tight battle for the third at-large seat on the nine-member board.
No at-large winners were declared Tuesday night, however. Erwin had the most first-choice votes, and trailed Young narrowly on second choices. Forney and Nordyke were closely balanced among first-, second- and third-choice votes. Nordyke was trying to regain a seat he lost in 2009.
At least one new face is guaranteed on the board. Steffanie Musich, a master gardener and founder and president of Friends of Lake Nokomis, was unopposed in District 5, the southeast corner of the city, where incumbent Carol Kummer retired.
Liz Wielinski ran unopposed for re-election in her district along the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, incumbents Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland, Anita Tabb and Brad Bourn prevailed in the remaining four districts. Bourn easily turned back a challenge from Josh Nieman, whose father and grandfather served on the board for about three decades overall.
In the coming term, the board is expected to move forward with a major transformation of the Mississippi riverfront from Plymouth Avenue north to the city's border with Fridley. Erwin described riverfront redevelopment as "our generation's contribution to the city." But many candidates cited the need to step up maintenance of trails and buildings in community parks. Another major challenge will be dealing with the long-term threat from the emerald ash borer, which threatens all 40,000 ash trees on public land, which the park board manages.
Among the other candidates for the three at-large seats were Jason Stone and Meg Forney, who have run for the board in the past.
Charter update: Yes
Voters were in an agreeable mood on a pair of city charter amendment questions, throwing more than 80 percent support behind the efforts to modernize the language and streamline some of the provisions in the city charter and liquor regulations.
The charter provision will be the first significant overhaul of the city's governing handbook since 1920, and could reduce the document's verbal bulk by 80 percent.
The revisions were supported by former mayors Al Hofstede, Don Fraser and Sharon Sayles Belton. Other current and former officials, however, cautioned that removing some charter provisions and replacing them later as ordinances could politicize and thus weaken them.