NRP Policy Board Candidates at a Glance
Jeffrey L. Strand
Occupation: Supervisor, Tax-Forfeit & Property Revenue Section
Address: 5100 Thomas Ave. N. (55430)
Neighborhood of Residence: Shingle Creek
Years in Neighborhood: 14 years
Years in Minneapolis: 25 years
- How have your life experiences prepared you to be a neighborhood representative?
I have been given the opportunity both in my career and in my work as a community activist to interact with diverse groups and to creatively problem solve. I bring a willingness to listen to the views of others, but also a willingness to articulate neighborhood concerns and interests. Neighborhood representatives must work together to be effective.
The prior experience on the Policy Board (2001-2002) and other deliberative bodies means I know how to prepare and move action items in this setting. As the record from my prior service 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 when necessary.
- What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the NRP?
My decade-plus involvement in the program has instilled in me the belief that neighborhood-based planning and visioning performed by Minneapolis' citizens is a great NRP strength. Since the City's financial resources are so strained, the prudent use of limited resources available to the neighborhoods becomes critically important during the balance of the program. Careful goal prioritization, consideration of outcomes and sound fiscal management must be another strength. Creative ways need to be found to infuse new energy into the longtime program participants and to engage the new Americans communities.
Even as the program enters its second decade, one must ask if residents achieved the core goal of redirecting municipal planning and resources? I perceive a weakness of the NRP is that the municipal bureaucracy, existing processes and many officials have failed to embrace the neighborhoods-based planning arising from the NRP program. The Council and Mayor Rybak have embraced Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) and Focus Minneapolis. Now and into the future there needs to be greater integration between the NRP as a citizen participation program and the municipal organizations, processes and systems.
- How have you participated in your neighborhood organization and its NRP process?
I helped form the Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association and have served on its board since 1992 and as its board chair since 1997. Through this neighborhood involvement, I participated in projects and organizations including the Penn Lowry Lyndale Implementation Council, the Humboldt Greenway Steering Committee, the Mississippi Corridor Neighborhood Coalition, an ad hoc task force to oppose closing of Shingle Creek Elementary school, the Community Board of CommonBond Communities Shingle Creek Commons senior housing, and the Camden Alliance of Neighborhoods.
Besides serving as association president, I chaired numerous board meetings and membership meetings. I represented the neighborhood's interests at public meetings and before the City Council, the Park Board, the School Board, and a committee of the Minnesota Legislature. I have written articles for the neighborhood newsletter, Camden Community News, and have composed numerous letters and emails and initiated phone calls to local officials to help facilitate for residents or to resolve neighborhood problems.
The Shingle Creek action plan was adopted in 1995 and its Phase I Review was completed in 2002. SCNA's budget only permits part-time neighborhood staff. SCNA has achieved several plan modifications to accommodate changes in neighborhood priorities or to support local government planning goals. I'm proud of the work product to date of a 2-year community planning, visioning and greening process Shingle Creek has undertaken in collaboration with other groups for Humboldt Industrial Park. To me neighborhood activism is good citizenship---like voting, paying one's taxes, and caring about one's home and community.
- How do you plan to maintain a relationship with the neighborhoods you would represent if elected?
If elected to serve in 2004 I will use my experience as a long-time neighborhood chair/board member and community activist to remain accessible to interested constituents and stakeholders who wish to contact me with their concerns or issues.
I will build on relationships with other neighborhood activists (such as Debbie Evans) affiliated with the "Neighbors for Neighborhoods" during 2002-2003 as policy-makers debated long-term structural and funding issues.
Both on and off the Policy Board, I observed the meetings rarely attracted many members of the general public. This may be due in part to the meeting time and location of the Policy Board meetings (4:30 pm, Hennepin County Government Center). Neighborhood organizations should be informed of the draft meeting agenda in advance of meetings by having the information posted to the NRP web site in a timely manner. Likewise, Policy Board meeting minutes can be published to the web site. As the technology and funding permits, the Policy Board meetings may be televised on MTN or web cast to reach a wider audience.
In the meanwhile, I support the use of the NRP web site, mailings and the "NRP Link" as the primary effective means to get program and Policy Board information to neighborhoods and residents. I strive to practice a balanced approach to family, work life and community service, so I'm not going to promise to attend a neighborhood meeting every night of the week. But I will attend a meeting with neighborhood constituents if invited to do so.
- Name one thing you would like to work on if elected.
The Policy Board is going to have to closely monitor and work with all the neighborhoods to equitably implement the Phase II program in view of the funding and rule changes resulting from the amendments to the NRP Ordinance. Some neighborhoods that complied with the rules and met or exceeded legal requirement of 52.5% for supporting housing will now face restrictions on funding other legitimate neighborhood goals and strategies. Members need also consider fairly balancing citywide needs in terms of Policy Board-directed funding from Reserve Funds versus funding priorities derived from specific neighborhood action plans.
- Why are you running for a neighborhood representative seat on the Policy Board?
If elected, I'm going to devote the time and energy to attend the board briefings and regular meetings and work with elected officials, community interest and neighborhood representatives to achieve constructive compromise to benefit the governance of the NRP and the interests of our city and its residents.
I believe there is unfinished business in terms of cleaning up the operation of the Policy Board to ensure that it conforms to its own bylaws. For example, I support enactment by the jurisdictions of Bylaws Revisions that were adopted by the Policy Board in 2002 that would increase neighborhood representation, clarify succession in case of vacancies, and provide a mechanism to ensure community interest representatives are active participants and not "placeholders."
The Policy Board lacks a committee structure that appears from time-to-time to result in matters being debated at length with little prior dialogue or consideration and with no constructive outcome. I think the Policy Board should consider if its regular meetings could be more efficient if it utilizes its existing authority to establish standing or special committees.
The NRP needs to lead the way as citizen participation in Minneapolis is improved or redesigned. The Policy Board cannot afford to continue in a reactive mode. Since the Policy Board brings together leaders from the local jurisdictions serving the citizens as well as neighborhood, foundation and other communities of interest, it must lead the way in this process.
- Please list any community-based organizations with which you are currently involved.
- Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association
- Penn Lowry Implementation Council (PLLIC)
- Shingle Creek Commons Community Board (CommonBond)
- Camden Alliance of Neighborhoods (CAN!)
- Please list all current paid and unpaid affiliations.
- Employer: Hennepin County Taxpayer Services
- Boarded Buiildings Task Force (Minneapolis/Hennepin County)
- Environmental Assessment Team (Hennepin County)
- 2003 Employees Combined Charitable Campaign (dept. co-coordinator)
- Mayor's Advisory Committee on Police Chief Selection
- Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association Board of Directors
- Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee
- Minneapolis Water Works' Citizen Advisory Committee
- Minneapolis/Senate District 58/Fourth Ward DFL Party
- Minneapolis-Moline Collectors, Inc., club member
- Hart-Parr Oliver Collector's Association, member #7821
- State Agricultural Heritage Museum, Brookings, South Dakota, member
- Minnesota's Machinery Museum, Hanley Falls, MN, member
- Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, donor
- District 202, donor
- Minnesota Public Radio, member
- Hennepin County Historical Society, donor
- TPT - Twin Cities Public Television, member