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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Candidate Questionnaire: Bernie Kunza

1. Why are you running to be a Commissioner on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board?

I am running for Commissioner of District One to be a representative of the residents of the Eastside. I want to work as part of the team that will improve and maintain the valuable resources of our city, paying special attention to the Riverfront, the health of our boulevard trees, and the trees that shade our parks. I also want to focus on the quality and variety of the recreational opportunities that are offered in my community paying special attention to securing some destination parks and amenities on the Eastside.

2. How would you describe the “job” of a park commissioner? What are the most important roles and responsibilities?

The job of park commissioner has many important roles and responsibilities. Commissioners represent their communities on a city-wide board that oversees the entire park system. Each member has an important role in their community as a leader and a representative that will listen to and represent the people that live in their districts. The job of park commissioner also entails giving special attention to the environmental issues that affect the park system, like restoring the water quality in our lakes and cleaning-up the Riverfront.

3. Are you running on a “reform” platform, or not? Please explain, be specific.
I do not believe that I would call myself a “reform” candidate. I am for any reformation that improves that quality of life and safety for the residents of the Eastside and the City of Minneapolis as a whole. I however, do not believe that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board should be dissolved as the independent park board is better able to serve the public needs in the areas of parks and recreation. If we lose the independence of the park board, it will put the lakes, parks, Riverfront, Boulevard trees, and Community programming at risk!

4. Do you support or oppose the proposed referendum for Park Board independence? Please explain.
I fully support the referendum for Park Board independence. I believe that the Park Board should remain a separate and independently elected board as I believe that the valuable resources such as Park land, the Riverfront, lakes, and boulevard trees are best cared for and overseen by an independently elected board that can direct it’s full attention to maintaining and improving these assets. It is my belief that if the city were to administer these projects and programs, the quality and quantity of these programs will suffer as the City Council has many other issues to deal with and adding the supervision and administration of something Vital and Valuable to the residents of Minneapolis to an already overwhelmed City Council makes little to no sense.

5. What experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on a board of an organization that has a $60 million budget, 600 full time employees, 1300 part time employees and controls 6400 acres of park land?
I am a community member and volunteer, I have worked hard to unite my community and work with the Full and Part time staff to coordinate programs and special events on the Eastside. I have served as the president of the Northeast Boosters at Bottineau Park for the last two decades. I have coached various sports on the Eastside serving over 2, 000 children and coordinated the same amount of volunteers to assist in the programming, special events and Sports camps. Although examining the budget is not my expertise, I will study, review, and seek input to fully grasp the budget.

6. What is your view on how the MPRB should approach public/private partnerships, “enterprise” or income-generating projects?
I believe that all of the members that we can recruit to our team effort of maintaining and improving the resources that are overseen by the MPRB the better. Public and private partnerships lend to both entities the ability to better serve and build our communities. These projects should be carefully crafted to keep the public interest at the core. Income-generating projects enable the MPRB to move towards economic sustainability thus being better able to provide a wide and interesting range of programming as well as making the system better able to care for and improve its vast and important ant natural resources.

7. While employee morale remains high, there has been an acrimonious relationship between some of the members of the board and the staff and even between board members themselves. Why do you think this is, and what if anything would you do to improve these relationships?
I believe that there will be a certain amount of disagreement among the members of almost any group of elected officials. Disagreement sometimes bears out the discussions that ultimately change and improve the policies that the board adopts. So, in my opinion, not all disagreement is bad. If elected, I will work to build and maintain a TEAM atmosphere, empathizing that the acronym T.E.A.M. stands for Together Everyone Accomplishes More! Working together to serve the citizens of the City of Minneapolis by preserving and improving the vital natural resources and programming that the MPRB oversees is what the board members are elected to do; I will NOT forget that fact!

8. There is a general perception that the MPRB has sometimes had strained relationships with other organizations (City, County). What is your perception and how will you approach these relationships?
I will approach these relationships with the same mindset as described above, I will work with any entity as a team member that wants to contribute to a positive outcome for the residents of the city and the services and amenities offered thereof. I want to help build strong positive relationships with all organizations that the MPRB deals with as better relations will logically lead to better service and quality of life for all Minneapolis residents.


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