This page is an archive. Visit our voter guide for current elections.

MPRB District 6 Candidates

1) Describe your personal experience with skateboarding.

Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?

Cathy Abene – In the 1970s I saved up my paper route money and bought myself the coolest skateboard sold at Ben Franklin. It had a denim pattern on the deck, synthetic wheels, and trucks that flexed. In those days we were the first kids to cruise around on boards and bring them with us wherever we went. I quickly discovered that I wasn’t very coordinated or physically daring so that’s when I learned how to do tricks with yo-yos and taught myself how to juggle. My hat is off to anyone who wants to pursue skateboarding and especially those who become good at it; it’s an amazing skill. And let us never forget, skateboarding is not a crime!

Risa Hustad – While I am not a skateboarder myself, I am an enthusiast of all ways people roll around the city.

Barb Schlaefer – My perception of skateboarding is almost entirely positive. Any activity that gets people outdoors, off screens and physically active is important and should be promoted. I also appreciate that – except for the cost of the board – it’s a very accessible sport. My daughter has a long board. I had two skateboards as a teen long ago: a thin fiberglass “long” board and a shorter poly trick board. They were nothing like the boards of today, but kept us occupied for hours working on new skills. It felt like play, but we were pushing and experimenting and engaged with the neighbors. The experience was ALL GOOD.

2) Skateboarding has always had an appeal to youth and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity (ages 3-60+ years). Minneapolis needs more opportunities for our citizens to be outside, active and creative in community social spaces.

Do the communities you would represent have existing quality, accessible and visible skateboard spaces at the moment?

Cathy Abene – I support more MPRB locations for skateboard spaces. I couldn’t agree more that providing opportunities for physical outdoor activities is a top priority.

Risa Hustad – Minneapolis Park Board District 6 currently has one skate park – the Armatage skate park. I am in support of the Minneapolis Park Board Skate Park Activity Plan to both improve the quality of current skate parks across the city and increase spaces across the park system for skateboarding. I have heard from residents across District 6 that people need more opportunities within our park system, and will advocate for increased accessibility to ensure folks are able to skate across all of our parks, and for opportunities for informal programming for children and adults.

Barb Schlaefer – I would much rather see six large, unique, exceptional skate parks that are well maintained and activated than 20 crappy ones. Whatever is built must have stable maintenance funding.

3) Women and men will compete in 2 new skateboard events at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Skateboarding is seen by many as a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation.

Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender, and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.

Cathy Abene – Compared to other sports, the costs to gear up are not terribly prohibitive. If public skateparks are available in all corners of the city, young people can get to them on their own, by skateboard or try other locations by bus, no elaborate carpools required. A big part of my platform is about keeping our parks safe so our kids can explore them free-range style.

Risa Hustad – Increasing low barrier opportunities for recreation and alternative opportunities to engage people within our park system is a key to the park system achieving our equity goals. Accessibility within our parks to mean both looks like everyone is able to physically access our parks in alternative ways to personal vehicles, and also our park infrastructure, signage and activities are open to people from all backgrounds – in particular people who have been excluded from enjoying our park system. 

Barb Schlaefer – Minneapolis is a beautifully diverse city. Parks are for young people and for making friends through healthy activities. Skateboard parks must be built well, to current standards, but never charge a fee, like some some park activities (Nordic, skiing, golf etc.) Our skate parks must develop and adhere to some environmental standards for stormwater management and green space/tree management to offset the effects of large, non-porous concrete areas. These standards will make skatepark spaces more appealing to all.

4) 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.

How will you support skateboarding, skateparks, and what other ideas, proposals do you support to serve all youth?

Cathy Abene – We are sitting on a goldmine of opportunity with regard to adding more good stuff for our kids and youth to do. Funding for youth recreation has been flat or even fallen since 2008. The MPRB has the organizational structure in place to really ramp up outdoor activities and nature for kids. In addition to providing physical activities, I know that some of our kids are our future bird watchers and beekeepers and jugglers. Access to our amazing nature gives us a huge opportunity to provide all types of engagements for kids and their wide-open exploration of nature and recreation.

Risa Hustad – One element of our parks system that is lacking, and I will advocate for is what I have been referring to as informal programs. There are several great examples of this including our current skate parks, our bike skills courses and our summer pools. I believe we need more opportunities, particularly for young people, to engage in play within our parks, outside of our organized programming and league programming. I would love to see additional investment made in our park infrastructure that supports this, including skate parks, and supporting our park staff to engage our community as they enjoy and use these amenities.

Barb Schlaefer – I will support improving skateparks, with a focus on having the best and most interesting, exciting, sustainable and accessible skateparks.

5) In 2018 MPRB approved a Skate Park Activity Plan that was a 5 year process that began in 2013 with a Community Steering Committee. Additionally, with the completion of MPRB citywide Master Planningin 2020, 20+ skatepark and skateboard spaces have been approved system wide.

Will you support funding to help complete the MPRB Skate Park Activity Plan and the 20+ spaces already designated to provide safe skateboard/wheeled spaces for youth and communities? Are you willing to champion an annual line item on the MPRB CIP directly for new, improved and accessible skatepark facilities in the high equity rated parks for prioritizing recreational youth development?

Cathy Abene – If there’s an unmet demand for more skateparks or the potential to bring more youth and others to skateboarding by adding more skateparks, we should do it. If there’s a good, equitable plan, all the better. These are exactly the types of initiatives I will focus on as Park Board Commissioner. Thank you!

Risa Hustad – Yes. I am in support of the Skate Park Activity Plan and will advocate for improved facilities identified within the plan.

Barb Schlaefer – I haven’t skateboarded much, but I am an avid roller skier and rollerblader, so I know that having decent paved surfaces that small wheels don’t get stuck in is very important for enjoyment and safety. I know some skateboarders. My perception is that skateboarding attracts athletes who may not be interested in team sports, and they have individual flair.