The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association will hold its first-ever October election in hopes of strengthening student participation.
With students moving in and out of the neighborhood as academic years change, MHNA’s new Oct. 17 election date is more accommodating to student schedules.
“Historically, it’s a difficult problem to get any students to have the time and flexibility to be a part of a board,” said Chris Lautenschlager, MHNA executive director.
The annual board elections were formerly held in June. The decision to move the elections was “to make sure that [students] knew we wanted them to be part of the process,” he said.
Minneapolis Park Board Candidate Chris Meyer said the board’s previous summer elections excluded students.
“But that’s changed now, now it’s much better and … very welcoming to students,” Meyer said.
To accommodate the “highly mobile” student population, MHNA also shortened the required residency time to run for election from nine months to six months, Lautenschlager said.
“We’re always looking for ways to streamline the process and make it more friendly to all residents,” he said. “I think [this] was a reach out to the University community.”
Grant Simons, a Minnesota Student Association representative on the MHNA board, said he tries to bring student issues to the forefront of the board.
“Having a seat on the board [makes] … big differences,” for pushing student issues, Simons said.
Pedestrian safety, bike lanes, accessible housing and safety are top concerns for students in the neighborhood, he said.
Although he can bring student issues forward, Simons said some MHNA board members don’t take him seriously because he was automatically granted the seat as the MSA representative.
“What we really want to see is a student not with MSA not be on the board,” he said.
Meyer said the election date change was a “necessary, but [insufficient] step toward getting more students involved.” The next step is increasing student involvement — which falls on the students themselves, Meyer said.
“We need students to be represented there,” he said, as MHNA decisions impact the entire neighborhood.
Six seats on MHNA’s board of directors will be up for grabs on Oct. 17, Lautenschlager said.