NRP Policy Board Candidates at a Glance

Sean Wherley

Occupation: Environmental Policy / Communications
Address: 4300 Grand Ave. S. #1 (55409)
Neighborhood of Residence: Kingfield
Years in Neighborhood: 3.5 years
Years in Minneapolis: 8 years
Phone: 612-825-4952

  1. How have your life experiences prepared you to be a neighborhood representative?
    My service as an alternate on the NRP Policy Board, a board member in two neighborhoods, and community activist have ably prepared me to be a neighborhood representative. In addition, my community organizing experience gained through running political campaigns in Minneapolis, and written and verbal communication skills enhanced through my full-time job will help immensely when informing and educating the public about NRP and its policies.

    NRP is an outstanding program but its declining resources require that it be steered toward helping neighborhoods navigate NRP's remaining four years. My oversight skills gained, as the treasurer of an organization, will help ensure that neighborhoods receive proper training and support from NRP central staff before NRP funding ends in 2009.

  2. What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the NRP?
    NRP's strength is its ability to involve and empower neighborhood residents. The program has engaged thousands of people committed to spending public funds in the pursuit of stronger neighborhoods.

    NRP's weaknesses are its declining funding allocation, and expiration in 2009. Neighborhoods will have less money to spend in Phase II than earlier thought, and the requirement that 70 percent of it be devoted to housing will prove trying with increasing property values. The end of funding in 2009 also forces neighborhoods to begin planning a course for after NRP. Presently, neighborhoods are receiving little to no guidance from NRP central staff for building self-sufficient organizations.

  3. How have you participated in your neighborhood organization and its NRP process?
    Since May 2002, I have served on the board of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, where I serve as secretary, chair its NRP Steering Committee, edit and write its quarterly newsletter, oversee fundraising efforts, and organize the neighborhood's annual festival each summer. Prior to living in Kingfield, I served on the board of the Seward Neighborhood Group for seven months in 1997-1998, until I accepted a job out of state.

  4. How do you plan to maintain a relationship with the neighborhoods you would represent if elected?
    I intend to send monthly updates by e-mail to executive directors, neighborhood board members, and other community residents for which I have e-mail addresses. I currently do this as the Kingfield neighborhood representative for the I-35W Access Project Advisory Committee. I would also make myself available to speak to any neighborhood organization.

  5. Name one thing you would like to work on if elected.
    In light of the NRP Phase II requirement that neighborhoods devote 70 percent of their allocation toward housing projects, I want to focus on providing necessary support and resources to neighborhood staff and volunteers. During NRP's Phase I, housing initiatives often proved for neighborhoods to be the most difficult program to implement. Soaring housing prices and land values made it difficult to create "affordable" housing, and such programs required expertise that may have been lacking in neighborhoods. It is crucial that NRP educate neighborhood staff and volunteers about successful housing programs in the city, and pair neighborhoods to learn how to implement such programs.

  6. Why are you running for a neighborhood representative seat on the Policy Board?
    I am running for a seat on the Policy Board because neighborhoods need guidance on securing a future after NRP. Almost all neighborhoods derive their revenue exclusively from NRP. However, with NRP funding to neighborhoods scheduled to end in 2009, it is imperative that neighborhoods gain self-sufficiency now. Neighborhood staff and volunteers must be trained in grant writing, other revenue-generating mechanisms, and learn how to possibly pool staff and funding with other neighborhoods.

    This path can be enhanced through NRP-led workshops and trainings, organized through the NRP central office. Without similar assistance, most neighborhoods will lose their funding sources, resulting in volunteer-driven organizations that have a diminished ability to implement existing levels of programs and projects.

  7. Please list any community-based organizations with which you are currently involved.
    • Serve as an alternate on the NRP Policy Board;
    • Serve as a neighborhood representative on the I-35W Access Project Advisory Committee;
    • Serve as a board member of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association; and
    • Serve as an officer of Speak Up and Out Toastmasters, a public speaking group in St. Paul

  8. Please list all current paid and unpaid affiliations.
    Work full-time for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, a non-profit, environmental group in Minneapolis. All positions listed in question 7 (above) are unpaid.