AC Transit Board Candidates Discuss Priorities

Photo: AC Transit's board of directors may change with the Nov. 2 elections. Candidates hoped to maintain services despite deep funding cuts and looked for voters to voice their opinion.
Anna Vignet/Staff
AC Transit's board of directors may change with the Nov. 2 elections. Candidates hoped to maintain services despite deep funding cuts and looked for voters to voice their opinion.

Related Articles »

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

As four positions on the seven-member AC Transit District board of directors come up for election Nov. 2, candidates are considering options to best maintain services in light of recent cuts and funding woes.

Seats in AC Transit wards 3, 4 and 5, as well as one at-large position - the only seat Berkeley residents can vote on - will be on the ballot. According to district officials, board members are responsible for all district policy decisions, such as the Sept. 22 reduction of weekend service for more than half of its weekend lines, including the 1R, 7 and 52 that run through Berkeley.

"UC Berkeley students should be concerned about their relationship with AC Transit," said incumbent [At-Large] Director at Large Joel Young, adding that even students who don't use buses benefit from AC Transit's impact on traffic congestion. "We move approximately 187,000 people per day and we all benefit."

According to Young, Berkeley utilizes a significant amount of AC Transit's services and possible changes by the board could potentially affect students' ability to get to and from school.

Important issues in the race include the district's budget and ongoing negotiations with unions. Elsa Ortiz, incumbent director of Ward 3 - the area surrounding the cities of Alameda and San Leandro - said the district's financial deficit requires tough decisions that her opponents do not have [the] a record of making.

"This election is about who is willing to make [to make ]cuts to make (the district) an efficient, solvent agency for years to come," Ortiz said. "We've eliminated positions, terminated generous perks and benefits that the administration provided for management and tried to get things for labor and have failed and we will be forced to make further cuts - we can't continue to balance the budget on the backs of our riders."

Nancy Skowbo, who is running against Ortiz for the Ward 3 position, said her first priority if elected is to resolve any ongoing labor disputes with unions. As a former employee of AC Transit, Skowbo said she has experience in negotiating from both sides of the table.

"What I'm stressing right now is there are four attorneys on the AC Transit board," she said. "It's not a slam against attorneys, but I think it would benefit the board to have somebody with a practical transit background with the practical experience of having driven a bus, having planned services and oversighted the schedules department. Frankly, that seems to resonate with residents, and it's kind of the key play for me."

Candidates stressed the importance of submitting a ballot for the upcoming board races and hoped community members would exercise their rights as voters.

"There are about 128,000 registered voters (in Ward 3) and fewer than half voted in 2006," Skowbo said. "Transit is such an advantage - people should get excited."

Jeff Davis, incumbent director of [ward] Ward 5, the southernmost ward in the district, said other considerations besides the lack of funds must be made when deciding how services will be affected.

"We are providing for the basic needs of our community and I think that is really in question at this point," Davis said. "That is going to force us - the board - to look at all sorts of possible solutions to try to hold back the cuts in service and try to even extend services if we can."

Board members serve four-year terms. Elections for the board occur every two years. The seats not up Nov. 2 - wards 1, 2 and the other at-large seat - will be voted on in 2012.


Contact Kate Lyons at [email protected]

Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
City Government
Image City proposes major cuts to budget
Amid a grim national, state and local economic recovery forecast, the city ...Read More»
City Government
Image Local concern builds over Highway 13 construction
Some community members remain concerned that the ongoing expansion...Read More»
City Government
Image Sit-lie debate focuses on homelessness
Tonanzin Klote sits cross-legged with a feather in her cap and flowers tied...Read More»
City Government
Image Location restrictions could be ahead for Berkeley...
In response to a string of competing drug stores in B...Read More»
City Government
Image Downtown Area Plan takes steps forward
Years of planning, a referendum campaign and ballot initiative later, the m...Read More»
City Government
Image Some customers angered by SmartMeter opt-out plan
After being directed to create a SmartMeter opt-out proposal by th...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space