A growing field of grassroots candidates is seeking seats next year on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, judging by the turnout at a Parks and Power open house for candidates last week.
At least 10 candidates, seven of them previously below the radar, identified themselves as running or interested in doing so to the 35 people attending the event held at Hope Community.
The multi-racial field lends credibility to the argument that arguments over racial equity in park services will be a major theme in the campaign.
Parks and Power has alleged inequities in park programs and facilities for low-income neighborhoods. But organizer Jake Virden said the nonprofit organization can't endorse candidates due to its tax status.
For three city-wide seats that all voters may fill, those who disclosed that they're considering a run are Khusaba Seka of the Powderhorn neighborhood, Asha Long of Lowry Hill and Cindy Wilson, a veteran Park Board employee who has been critical of the board. Three-term Incumbent John Erwin also attended, although he's not definitively said whether he'll seek another term.
Russ Henry of Longfellow, who already has announced his plans, also attended. Also in the field are incumbent Meg Forney, with others who have said they're likely to run including former commissioner Bob Fine and Mike Tate of Webber-Camden.
Ailing long-time incumbent Annie Young hasn't said whether she'll seek a seventh term.
The unfolding field leaves four-term North Side Commissioner Jon Olson as the only incumbent to not have a identified challenger so far. There's some irony in that given that his district is the only one to emerge from the last round of redistricting with a non-white majority.
Two other newcomers have announced their candidates since the event. One is Cedar-Riverside neighborhood resident Abdi (Gurhan) Mohamed, 30, who announced Friday and is the first declared candidate in the south-central District 3. The owner of a home personal care business is a board member of the West Bank Community Coalition. Three-term incumbent Scott Vreeland hasn't indicated whether he'll run. Two others, Londel French, an teacher union organizing living in Central neighborhood, and Eric Brenneman of Corcoran, also are considering running.
Another declared candidate, Christopher Meyer, 31, of Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, could test two-term East Side incumbent Liz Wielinski. He brings experience as a political organizer and said he he'll try to raise $10,000 for a campaign that's expected to also rely on door-to-door shoe leather. Wielinski entered 2016 with a campaign treasury of about $14,000, more than twice any other incumbent.
Meanwhile, Loring Park resident Jae Bryson, 54, said he's running in District 4, which includes downtown and runs west to the city border. He's publisher of One Nation News, part of a multicultural media company. Incumbent Anita Tabb has indicated she'll likely not run again, but former commissioner Tom Nordyke of the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood has said he's strongly considering a comeback in the district.
Meanwhile, Turner Neal of the Keewaydin neighborhood said he's thinking of challenging Steffanie Musich, who is seeking a second term in the Nokomis-area District 5. No additional candidates has emerged in southwestern District 6, where incumbent Brad Bourn is likely to seek a third term, with challengers Michael Derus and Hershel Ousley also running and 2013 opponent Josh Neiman not ruling out a run.