The nine-member Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will have six new faces next year.
Final results announced Wednesday night revealed winners of the board's three at-large seats — incumbent Meg Forney and newcomers Latrisha Vetaw and Londel French.
None of the three hit the victory threshold of 25 percent of first-choice votes under the city's ranked-choice voting system. Forney had 23 percent, Vetaw 22 percent and French 15 percent before second- and third-voter choices from dropped candidates were exhausted.
The competition was fierce, and candidates backed by Our Revolution MN, a progressive political group, mounted an aggressive and well-organized campaign focused on issues such as racial equity, increasing diversity among Park Board staff and eliminating the use of pesticides in parks.
"The message of inclusivity carried the day in Park Board elections throughout the city," incumbent Brad Bourn said Wednesday, shortly after it was announced that he had been re-elected.
Bourn had been in a tight race against challenger Bob Fine that dragged into Wednesday night.
Voters seemed to say that they want the Park Board to play a bigger role in the lives of families and young people, Bourn said. That means making the Park Department a good place to work and parks across the city a better place for families, whether they're on the North Side or in Bourn's southwest Minneapolis district, he said.
"Southwest Minneapolis has been the beneficiary of a hundred years of disproportionate investment," Bourn said. "We need to do a better job of listening to members of our community who have felt marginalized interacting with Minneapolis parks."
Winners for district seats on the Park Board were Chris Meyer, Kale Severson, Abdikadir "AK" Hassan and Jono Cowgill. They will join incumbents Bourn, Forney and Steffanie Musich on the board.
Newcomer Vetaw, who had the backing of the Green Party, said outgoing Commissioner Annie Young pushed her to run for an at-large seat.
Vetaw said her focus will be on community engagement, youth recreation and programming for seniors. She said her win came as a surprise. "I thought I was going to be way at the bottom," said Vetaw, health advocacy and policy manager for Northpoint Health and Wellness. "Minneapolis really loves me, and people know my work in this city [from] working on tobacco-free parks to working on the menthol restriction."
After Severson's victory in District 2, the North Side area, was announced Tuesday night, he said, "I'm so excited that the North Side chose a progressive person who's committed to make things better in our parks. We have to diversify the Park Board's workforce and start hiring more North Siders."
The Park Board has been dogged by criticism about staffing practices and the treatment of employees of color. Protesters regularly attend board meetings, including one that featured a shouting match between outgoing member Liz Wielinski and civil rights activist Nekima Levy-Pounds. The Minneapolis NAACP called for a boycott of the organization for a time, and urged park employees not to take on any new duties.
Although the majority of board members will be newcomers, there is unlikely to be major changes in direction, said current board member Jon Olson, who chose not to seek re-election in his North Side district, part to improve diversity on the board.
"I think the new board will work together and find common ground," he said.
The Park Board has an annual budget of more than $111 million.
The new board will be responsible for guiding the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal on the Mississippi River, determining the future of the Hiawatha Golf Club and considering Superintendent Jayne Miller's contract, which expires in 2018.
Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203