Two fresh faces will join the BART board of directors, including one newcomer who knocked off a two-term incumbent in a race that was heavily funded by building contractors.
Zakhary Mallett, 25, pulled off a surprising victory over District 7 Director Lynette Sweet, a board member since being appointed in 2003. District 7 includes the eastern sliver of San Francisco where Sweet is from and portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. While Sweet won handily among San Francisco residents, voters in the East Bay largely went for Mallett.
Mallett, a relative unknown before the election who recently received a master’s degree in urban planning from UC Berkeley, had strong backing from construction contractors, who pumped more than $30,000 into the campaign.
Sweet was a vocal champion for minority- and women-owned businesses, and her close scrutiny of every BART contract drew criticism from some of the agency’s vendors. Mallett said he is not beholden to the agenda of his backers, although he understands their concerns with Sweet.
“She regularly overstepped her boundaries, in terms of the subcontractor provisions and the bidding processes,” Mallett. “I think I received support because I made it clear I wouldn’t engage in that kind of cronyism.”
Phone calls and text messages to Sweet were not returned Monday.
Rebecca Saltzman joined Mallett as the other newcomer on the nine-person board. Saltzman defeated two other candidates in the race for District 3, which covers portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Saltzman will replace Bob Franklin, who stepped down earlier this year to take a full-time job with BART.
Incumbents Gail Murray, John McPartland and Tom Radulovich, who represents San Francisco BART riders, were all re-elected.
Radulovich said he’s looking forward to working with the new directors, who will be sworn in next month. He did say he was a bit surprised to see Sweet get ousted.
“I still really don’t know how BART elections work,” said Radulovich, who has been a member of the board since 1996. “Sometimes I think the person who works the hardest gets elected. Sometimes I just think it’s completely random.”
BART is one of only a handful of transit agencies in the country to have an elected board of directors. San Mateo County is excluded from board elections because it was not originally part of the transit system.
Battle for District 7
Zakhary Mallett defeated an incumbent to join the BART board of directors:
|Candidate||San Francisco||Contra Costa||Alameda||Total|
Sources: Elections departments for each county