Election 2021: Minneapolis Park Board, District 2

There are three candidates on the ballot:

Eric Moran (DFL-endorsed)
Becka Thompson
Mike Shelton

The incumbent, Kale Severson, is not running for re-election.

tl;dr absolutely positively vote for Eric Moran first; rank Mike Shelton 2nd.

Mike Shelton

Mike Shelton is a coach, athletic director, and the executive director of a nonprofit called Heritage Youth Sports Foundation that does a mix of sports coaching/athletic programs and social-emotional skills stuff.

Mike’s agenda, in full:

  • Safe parks, safe communities
  • Kids, families and communities engaged in park development
  • Relevant & impactful programming for ALL residents for Minneapolis Parks

    He’s also listed as a pro-golf-course candidate by the Save Hiawatha Golf Course group. To reiterate what I said in my post about Park Board District 5: that golf course is not functional in its current arrangement, and everyone knows it. But the Park Board failed to pass the compromise plan, basically passing the buck to the next Park Board. I am disinclined to support people who are committed to saving it in its 18-hole form (the compromise plan involved turning it into a 9-hole course).

That said, I would list him as my 2nd choice because I really do not like Becka Thompson.

Becka Thompson

So, where to even start. I guess I’ll start with this: her website, in talking about who parks are for, says they are for children, teens, and families, and stops there, like she doesn’t even pay lip service to the idea that parks are for everyone. In part because she wants to make it really clear that parks aren’t for homeless people.

In reading through platforms, here’s something that’s honestly a challenge to sort out: it’s reasonable to say that overnight camping in city parks is not, in fact, a good solution to homelessness. Something I kind of wish more people knew is that homeless encampments have existed in Minneapolis and Saint Paul for years — the change has been visibility. Which has been to the benefit of the unhoused people because service providers are a lot more likely to show up and offer aid to people living in a park than people 40 feet off a walking trail down by the river.

Frankly, I’m not sure Becka thinks that unhoused people should be allowed to sit in parks during the day. “However you choose to use our parks, in community or solitude, I believe we need to get back to a sense of decorum in doing that, to keep them safe and communal for all” coming right after her comment about how parks aren’t campgrounds reads to me as pretty clear code for “parks are for people who know how to behave.” (Oh, she does say that parkways are for everyone, but she means that they’re for cars.)

She’s opposed to City Question 2 (and solidly on the side of the Samuels, who tried to have the question kicked off the ballot entirely). She posted an outraged screen shot of an expensive new housing development happening next to Minnehaha Park, complained about Minneapolis 2040, and claimed parkland was taken for it. When someone questioned that claim, she said that it backed up to the creek (it doesn’t — the creek is on the other side of a busy street) and that it should be parkland, which … I mean, okay, you could argue this, I guess? but in fact it would be a really odd parcel to add to the park, since it’s a little postage stamp of land on the wrong side of a big intersection. She says that the DFL endorsement in Minneapolis is “akin to an endorsement for communism.”

AND THEN THERE’S HER BLOG. The post at the top (from April) has her complaining about the officers who aided and abetted Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd being “overcharged,” refers repeatedly to protesters as a “mob,” defends qualified immunity, all in one post, and if that’s not enough for you, here’s the post where she talks about George Floyd’s murder with the phrase “What transpired later was that the man in the car ended up dead and four police officers ended up in jail.”

Anyway, I do not want Becka Thompson to be anywhere near city government in any capacity.

Eric Moran

Eric Moran looks genuinely awesome. He starts out with “parks are for everyone,” normally a pretty anodyne statement but apparently controversial in this race, and talks about the importance of basic infrastructure — benches, bathrooms, water fountains, access. When my kids were little, we used to go to the park almost every day when the weather allowed, and the extent to which bathrooms were a crapshoot was kind of ridiculous.

He wants to work on better transit connections to the parks — I asked him for specifics and he mentioned the North Mississippi Regional Park (most of which is a long walk from the nearest stop) and Theodore Wirth along the parkway. He wants the digital platforms to meet accessibility standards! That is so important and so frequently ignored. He wants to build skate parks and full-sized basketball courts, and he wants to transform the old Victory Memorial Ice Arena (currently used for storage) into a roller skating facility (I don’t expect the rest of you to be as invested in this as I am, but my older kid did junior roller derby for years. Junior roller derby is an inclusive and shockingly accessible sport — it was amazingly inexpensive to participate, until they lost their space and couldn’t skate at all, anywhere.) As a Pokemon Go player who recognizes that having a lot of Pokestops near you is not viewed as an unambiguous plus by non-players, I liked his stance last June on Pokemon:

(Literally the only person I’ve ever seen connect the dots from “Pokemon Go players will be swarming” to “maybe we could do something with this”: a Girl Scout with a wagon full of cookies hanging out on the Macalester campus on a community day back in 2019. I went home with a bunch of new shinies and two boxes of Thin Mints.)

Eric is endorsed by the DFL, Stonewall DFL, the Sierra Club, AFSCME and Friends of Lake Hiawatha (that’s the group advocating for the lake, not the golf course.) His endorsements page includes the questionnaires and his answers, which is a type of transparency I really appreciate (because it makes my life easier).

I really like the way Eric approaches his “parks are for everyone” values: with a commitment to accessibility and practical amenities and the question “…if we know when they’re coming, is there something we can offer people?” He’s exactly the sort of candidate I’m excited to support.

I would rank Eric Moran #1, and Mike Shelton #2. I would not rank Becka Thompson.

Did you know that I had a book released this April? Chaos on CatNet is a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and takes place in a future Minneapolis. Signed copies are usually available from Dreamhaven and from the current mail-order-only incarnation of Uncle Hugo’s. Books make great holiday gifts, but should be ordered early this year — Tubby & Coo’s bookstore explains why.

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded. My readers have now bought a refrigerator for the school nurse at Olson Middle School, and outfitted some 8th grade Algebra students with binders to stay organized. Here are some other worthwhile fundraisers for high-poverty Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools:

An art teacher at Andersen United middle school is starting a ceramics program and needs a pug mill to recycle dried out clay back into usable clay. (Over time, they’ll save a lot of money on clay if they have this!)

The North High School librarian would like copies of We Are Not From Here for students to read in 9th grade English class.

And a teacher at Whittier would like an air purifier to reduce COVID risks in her elementary school classroom as is recommended by the EPA in conjunction with other measures. Why is that something a teacher has to fundraise for? WTF? anyway apparently this is something she has to fundraise for.


3 thoughts on “Election 2021: Minneapolis Park Board, District 2

  1. Another tidbit about Becka, for reference next election – when she originally entered the Ward 4 race against Phillipe Cunningham, she claimed to be a BIPOC candidate by saying she is of part Sámi heritage from Scandinavia…

    There was other reference on Twitter to what was on her website at the time but this is all I could turn up now: https://twitter.com/HistoryJack/status/1334145586287833089

    While Sámi faced vicious discrimination and racism in Scandinavia – parallel to indigenous nations in North America – as a result, most immigrants hid their Sámi heritage when they settled here and were treated no differently from the other Scandinavian immigrants who’ve become part of the dominant culture, so claiming to be BIPOC because of it completely misses the point, and whether it’s out of ignorance or deception, it’s equally reprehensible.

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