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MN 2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Jordan Fontenello District 28B
Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Are you a skateboarder? Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?
My experience with skateboarding has been zero. Never done it, never was interested in taking it up as a hobby. I’ve seen one person at my workplace who has a longboard and skates to work. I’ve got nothing against skateboarding — it’s a good physical activity that can help to keep fit, limber, and mentally active. It’s better by far (in my old-timer’s 1980’s opinion) than sitting in front of a tablet or computer for hours at a time. I have enjoyed watching the X-Games in the past (when I actually watched television before the year 2000) — the ability of these athletes is amazing to behold. A lot of practice, a lot of falling, a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Skateboarding has always had an appeal to youth and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity (ages 3-60+ years). Minnesota needs more opportunities for our citizens to be outside, active and creative in community social spaces. Do the communities you would represent have quality, accessible and visible skateboard spaces?
No. As far as I can tell, there are no skating parks within my District, which comprises Fillmore and Houston counties. i would certainly be ready to support any calls from the public for the creation of such places for activity.
Minnesota hosted the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During the three X Games Minneapolis events, women and men competed in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the Olympics for Tokyo 2021. Skateboarding has become a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation other than safe places to roll. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.
Anything that helps to bring people together in a positive way can be a method to build communities that are less likely to be segregated in any of the ways that your questionnaire mentioned. Because a large percentage of this type of activity still begins early in life, it is a good way of getting people to see each other as just that — people, instead of someone to be feared, denigrated, left out, or other negative connotations. Building this type of space in various places throughout a city can also have a positive, integrating effect because it allows people from different social and economic backgrounds to interact.
Quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use and value of tax payer resources due to their constant use and minimal maintenance. Other community amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, trails and courts need large dedicated spaces, costly programming, and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Beyond team sports, our community members need activities that challenge them mentally and physically. How will you support youth and community health with new ideas and infrastructure?
I will support youth and community health by getting the community involved in their own health and activities. Asking people what they want is a big starter. If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Getting the input from as many people, groups, businesses as possible in order to determine what the overall goals are for a given area, and then deciding what is going to best fulfill those goals by using all of the given information. Whether it is a skatepark, or a BMX trail, or tennis/ basketball courts, trails, climbing facilities — whatever the public wants is going to determine, to a great extent, what the public gets. But it first takes involvement with the people of the community to find out what they want, and that includes everyone in every segment of the population, be they young people, adults, moms, dads, business owners, etc.
Skateboarding is an individual challenging activity that can be done alone, but flourishes at community public skateparks that also can work within our COVID-19 era of social distancing. The University of Southern California just completed a study of skateboarding with these findings, “What we learned from skateboarding youth was profound. Study data illustrate how skateboarding bolsters mental health and facilitates community. Skaters of color explained feeling safer and more supported in the skate community. Skaters clearly articulated skills they learned through skating, such as persistence (skaters will practice a trick hundreds of times until they land it), problem solving, intergenerational and cross-cultural communication.” Our Minnesota communities need new ideas and resources to help serve our youth. Will you support the MN State Skate Park Matching Grant Program HF2490/SF1490?
Yes. I do support this program and its good intentions.