NRP Policy Board Candidates at a Glance
Jeffrey L. Strand
Occupation: Public Records Supervisor, Hennepin County
Address: 5100 Thomas Ave N (55430)
Neighborhood of Residence: Shingle Creek (Camden Community, 4th Ward)
Years in Neighborhood: 13 years
Years in Minneapolis: 24 years
- How have your life experiences prepared you to be a neighborhood representative?
My life/work experiences helped me to develop and refine critical thinking, a respect for fair play, a desire to resolve problems through "win-win" solutions, and to empathize with others. I am grateful to have been given the fantastic opportunity by the duly elected neighborhood electors to serve as Protection Neighborhoods representative during 2002. I served an unexpired 2001 term on the Policy Board subsequent to the resignation of the representative for Revitalization neighborhoods. By having this experience, I was able to work effectively on the Policy Board to achieve or advance some important initiatives to work to defend the program.
I have lived in Minneapolis for 24 years. In that period I have been a student, a renter, an apartment caretaker, a homeowner, a downtown worker, a municipal volunteer, an AFSCME union member, a neighborhood director and chair, a GLBT and DFL political activist, a supervisor, a community activist. My local government career has given me an opportunity to meet and work with an array of residents-taxpayers, neighborhood activists, business persons, elected officials, and local and state government staff.
My work is team-oriented, including participation in the following groups: Minneapolis Industrial Lands Employment Strategy (MILES) committee; County Environmental Assessment Team; MCDA Tax-Forfeit Orphan Sites US-EPA Brownfield's Pilot Project; Minneapolis/Hennepin County Collaborative on Vacant, Boarded and Tax-Forfeit Properties (Boarded Buildings Task Force). I have served as a volunteer on the Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee for 8 years. My CLIC colleagues asked me to serve on the Water Works Advisory Committee, which ultimately recommended the city implement a multi-million dollar capital investment in membrane filtration to protect the city's potable water supply. I formerly served on the Management Review Team including work on a grievance panel.
- What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the NRP?
I have been a neighborhood activist and an advocate for NRP for over a decade. NRP's true strength and wisdom resides in Minneapolis citizens, the essence of the program. The long-term value and effectiveness of the Minneapolis NRP has been demonstrated by citizen participation and input in numerous neighborhood-based municipal projects. The NRP provides a means for "bottom-up" planning that fosters innovation and develops citizen leaders.
The core of the NRP process is its role in redirecting municipal planning and resources rather than going after "the money". This last comment has been especially true as one working in the context of a Protection category neighborhood organization, where prudent use of limited resources has been mandatory. I view neighborhood activism as another form of good citizenship—just like voting, paying one's taxes, caring about one's neighbors, and maintaining one's home.
Despite existing for more than a decade, a weakness of the NRP is the extent to which the municipal bureaucracy and officials have failed to embrace the neighborhoods-based planning arising from the NRP program. Mayor Rybak and a majority of council members espouse support for the NRP. We should expect greater integration between the NRP and the municipal bureaucracy and systems during the Rybak administration.
Of equal importance as a weakness is the present lack of committed long-term funding for the NRP Phase II. While the commitments made by prior municipal officials to neighborhoods may not be legally binding, there is certainly a moral obligation for sitting officials to do their utmost to honor those promises. Only the State Legislature can break its promises with impunity through sovereign immunity. The mayor and city council may be unwilling or unable to guarantee long-term funding for NRP. In that case, I support a carefully crafted Minneapolis City Charter amendment to bring the issue to a vote of the people to establish the NRP Program under the City Charter and to re-secure the program's funding.
- How have you participated in your neighborhood organization and its NRP process?
I have been board chair of Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association since 1997. The NRP process in Shingle Creek was first being organized by immediate-past Chair Craig Cooper when I moved to the neighborhood in 1989. I helped to form the neighborhood association and to develop the NRP action plan to preserve and enhance the quality of life in my neighborhood and our city. I was elected to the SCNA board of directors in 1992. On behalf of SCNA, I have volunteered or been elected to serve as representative on the Humboldt Greenway Steering Committee; founding delegate to the Mississippi Corridor Neighborhood Coalition; voting delegate on the Penn Lowry Implementation Council; ex officio member on task force to oppose closing of Shingle Creek Elementary school; director on the Community Board of the CommonBond Communities Shingle Creek Commons senior housing facility; and participant in the Camden Alliance of Neighborhoods (CAN!).
Shingle Creek has in September 2002 become eligible for entry into NRP Phase II. The association just celebrated its first decade of existence with a neighborhood meeting and potluck. One of the residents at the neighborhood meeting summarize Shingle Creek as " the mouse that roared", citing the numerous achievements through the first ten years of NRP in such a small neighborhood having a relatively small NRP allocation. Among the achievements include: creation of trail linkage between city and county trail systems; Clarence Labelle VFW housing redevelopment, Owens Corning off-street truck staging area; Olson Middle School gym improvements; Humboldt Greenway Project; Shingle Creek regional pond-wetlands reclamation and trails; enterprise facilitation; uniforms for Creekview Park youth programs; Shingle Creek Commons senior housing; task force and and moratorium on closing Shingle Creek Elementary Environmental Magnet School. Most recently, I have facilitated a community-based visioning, planning, and greening process for the Humboldt Industrial Area with Council Member Johnson, and with assistance from MCDA, Minneapolis Planning, CEAC and CUE that has involved residents and industry.
I have chaired the association's monthly meetings.I have represented the neighborhood's interests at public meetings and while speaking before the City Council committees, Park Board Commissioners, Minneapolis School Board, and at the committee of the Minnesota Legislature in 1998 while seeking funding for the Humboldt Greenway project. I have written articles for the neighborhood newsletter and have composed numerous letters and emails, or initiated phone calls to local elected officials and government staff seeking redress of neighborhood problems. I have coordinated seven plan modifications to the Shingle Creek NRP Action Plan to accommodate changes in neighborhood priorities, or to support local government planning goals supported by the neighborhood.
- How do you plan to maintain a relationship with the neighborhoods you would represent if elected?
I can only promise to do my best to remain accessible to those whom I represent if re-elected. I would continue to use my knowledge, experience and networking skills developed as a neighborhood chair, long-time board member and community activist to ensure successful communication among the various stake holders involved in the NRP process. The four neighborhood representatives have worked together closely during 2002. I believe my service on CLIC and on the Policy Board demonstrates I can work effectively with officials and representatives from different wards and interest groups to work for the common good.
Policy Board meetings generally do not attract large number of the public. Phase II plan activity should increase during 2003, so it is likely more residents and neighborhood activists will attend meetings. We all have busy schedules. You should be able to trust your elected neighborhood representatives to act wisely on your behalf. Policy Board meetings occur at the Government Center. If the neighborhood organizations and residents request it, I would support holding Policy Board meetings in different parts of the city on a rotating basis to increase accessibility.
If re-elected to serve of 2003, I will continue to support the use of the NRP web site, mailings and the "NRP Link" as primary means of disseminating program and Policy Board information to neighborhoods and residents. You have my promise if re-elected that I will remain accessible to concerned neighborhoods and residents on NRP issues. I have concluded that using existing NRP resources makes more sense than providing neighborhood representatives with a separate communications budget. By way of example about communications, following the Policy Board debate on the McKinsey Report I requested that NRP administration post the Chair's letter sent to the mayor and city council on the web site. I also posted a message regarding this matter to the Minneapolis Issues forum. I strongly support regular notification to and solicitation of comments from the neighborhoods on proposed policies that the Policy Board is considering.
- Name one thing you would like to work on if elected.
Securing long-term funding for the NRP should be the primary goal, which will require strong support from the mayor and city council, the participating jurisdictions, and the voters. But there are other initiatives underway. I would like to serve another term on the Policy Board to complete some of the initiatives that I supported during 2002. If re-elected to the Policy Board I will advocate for the joint powers jurisdictions to adopt the Policy Board bylaws amendments. I served on the bylaws subcommittee with Commissioner Dorfman and Ken Kelash. Revision and updating of the bylaws was an election goal from last year. Changes approved by the Policy Board and subject to ratification by the joint powers jurisdictions include an increase in neighborhood representatives from 4 to 5 and requirements for active participation from representatives from community interests.
In last year's election guide I stated that "As a person having firsthand experience at the neighborhood level, it seems to me that the Policy Board and the NRP have plenty of rules and regulations to impose on the neighborhood organizations and residents/participants. It seems to me that NRP ought to review what additional support services if can provide to neighborhood organizations and residents to streamline reporting processes, to centralize available resources, and to reduce the burden of "red tape". I worked on the Policy Board to have adopted a program for Accounting Assistance for neighborhoods, which the NRP should be piloting in late 2002. Ensuring neighborhood enthusiasm and advancing the program is important.
- Why are you running for a neighborhood representative seat on the Policy Board?
I am running for re-election to the Policy Board for the 2003 term for a number of reasons.
My prior Management Review Team and Policy Board service means that I am comfortable reviewing the neighborhood action plans, participation agreements and plan modifications, and other matters that come before the NRP Policy Board. As the record reflects, I attend and speak up in meetings because I consider it critical that anyone serving as a neighborhood representative on the Policy Board not be hesitant about asking direct and tough questions. If re-elected I will do my best to preserve the integrity of the program and to represent the neighborhood organizations and citizens.
- To continue work with the mayor, city council, and joint powers jurisdictions on securing long term funding for NRP
- To push for adoption by the jurisdictions of the Policy Board bylaws changes that we already worked on earlier this year
- To see that the NRP follows through on providing enhanced neighborhood support such as the Accounting Assistance
- To prudently consider the continued implementation of the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund and Commercial Area Development Reserve Fund, but to achieve better geographic balance of distribution of those funds to projects in the city
- To fight for continued independence of the NRP while the mayor and city-council initiated planning and community development reforms are implemented
The Policy Board is still dealing with the financial ramifications of the blow dealt the NRP by the Minnesota Legislature when it passed the 2001 Property Tax Reform. Release of the McKinsey Report required a deliberate and measured response from the Policy Board in its fiduciary role as the governing body of the joint powers entity that is the NRP. Director Miller has said effective neighborhood representation during 2003 will be critical; I concur. I will work on your behalf to preserve the integrity and autonomy of the NRP's neighborhoods-based planning and goal setting processes. To impact policy the four neighborhood representatives cannot rely on their votes alone. Rather they must rely on their personal integrity, credibility, and persuasion to craft and shape policies developed by the Policy Board. I respectfully ask for your vote as Protection Neighborhoods Representative for 2003.
- Please list any community-based organizations with which you are currently involved.
- Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association, Board Chair/Association President
- Penn Lowry Implementation Council, Secretary/SCNA Voting Delegate (term limited as of October 2002)
- Shingle Creek Commons Senior Housing Community Board (CommonBond Communities) Director
- Camden Alliance of Neighborhoods (CAN!), participant from SCNA
- Please list all current paid and unpaid affiliations.
Paid: Employer: Taxpayer Services Department, Hennepin County, Minnesota
Volunteer or Unpaid:
- NRP Policy Board Member, 2002 Protection Neighborhoods Representative
- Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee, 4th Ward Appointee, Transportation and Property Services Task Force Chair, Executive Committee
- DFL Party: Senate District 58 DFL Party Secretary, Minneapolis DFL Central Committee, DFL 4th Ward Co-Coordinator
- Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, financial contributor
- Minnesota Public Radio, donor/member
- HC-2002 Employees Combined Charitable Campaign, department coordinator
- Community Crime Prevention/SAFE
- Hennepin History Museum, donor
- Minneapolis-Moline Collectors, Inc., club member
- Hart-Parr Oliver Collector's Association, member #7821
- State Agricultural Heritage Museum, Brookings, South Dakota, member/donor
- Minnesota's Machinery Museum, Hanley Falls, Minnesota, donor/member
- TPT - Twin Cities Public Television, member #1918897
- City-County Federal Credit Union and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, member