12 Views on 3 Levels: NRPA Board Members Weight the Impact of the Elections on National, State, and Local Levels

Parks & Recreation, December 2012 | Go to article overview

12 Views on 3 Levels: NRPA Board Members Weight the Impact of the Elections on National, State, and Local Levels


What will the outcome of the 2012 elections mean for the field of parks and recreation? As the governing body of the association, members of NRPA's board of directors have distinct views on what the elections mean on the national, state, and local levels. Below, these representatives from professional and citizen ranks share their personal thoughts on the elections.

The post-election outlook will be another two years of partisan politics. The economy will not take a dramatic shot upward during this time, nor will the deficit disappear any time soon. However, the NRPA membership should be proud, and remember that we have already weathered this tumultuous political atmosphere for two years. So, while it has not been easy, the advocacy efforts of NRPA Public Policy staff and members have still produced quantifiable results that few organizations or interest groups can claim.

Steven J. Thompson, CPRP

Greendale, Wisconsin

NRPA Chair

Congress will come to a deal and avoid falling off the cliff--the stakes are too high for another recession. With the next elections two years away, now is the time to come together, come to a deal, and get the economy moving. For park and recreation agencies, though, the next few years will continue to be difficult on a national level. While it shouldn't be this way, we will continue to take a backseat to other conversations because of so many other issues. That said, we continue to resonate locally, as evidenced by the successful park and recreation issues on local ballots. This is encouraging.

We must continue to tie ourselves as solutions to the bigger issues: health, wellness, children in nature, conservation, and open space. In many cases we are the solution to many of our nation's problems.

Bob Johnson, CPCU, ARM

Overland Park, Kansas

NRPA Immediate Past Chair

The American public spoke clearly on Election Day. They want Congress and the president to work together to address the serious economic and social issues facing this country, cities, and communities. Business as usual in Washington cannot continue. And I, for one, am optimistic that we will see a president who understands this as well as congressional leadership that will use a more productive strategy in how it works with the president. Although it's too early to tell, we will get a sense of the tone leaders in Washington are setting as they address the fiscal cliff. Let's hope they got the message.

Leon T. Andrews

Washington, D.C.

Traditionally, the impact of national elections offers more hope and promise than meaningful solutions for the park and recreation profession. The Land and Water Conservation Fund experienced a boost in Bill Clinton's second term, and perhaps it will occur again during President Obama's second term. Congress will act no differently until leadership in both chambers stand up to remind their members that "united we stand and divided we fall."

Nothing impacts our profession more than local politics. Unfortunately, our local challenge is that public safety (fire/police) comprises between 40 percent and 60 percent of local budgets, and that number continues to grow. Our only solution is to develop special park taxing districts with dedicated funding. We can sell that idea to the public based on our past success of creating recreation opportunities with bond dollars.

Ernest W. Burkeen Jr., CPRP

Baltimore, Maryland

While I see the outcome of the national election as good for parks and recreation, the results at the state and local levels may represent challenging times. The issue is funding to operate and maintain current facilities and services. The fiscal cliff impacts local resources needed to meet local needs. As states shift fiscal responsibility to localities, the competition for scarce dollars grows. Parks and recreation will be [expected] to generate revenue or gifts to sustain programs which will impact access to programs. …

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