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Mayor appoints former state Sen. Art Torres to replace retiring SFMTA board member

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Art Torres attends a Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall in September 2012. (Mike Koozmin/2012 S.F. Examiner)

Former state lawmaker Art Torres may join the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors following the retirement of longtime former chairman Tom Nolan, whose last meeting was Tuesday.

Torres, who served two terms as a California state senator, also served on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. He was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the SFMTA board, and could be approved by the Board of Supervisors as early as next week.

“Art is a decorated public servant with a long history of working alongside others to successfully address complex policy issues,” said Mayor Ed Lee in a statement. “He understands the pressing transportation issues facing this city, and understands how to find smart, innovative solutions to those challenges.”

Torres drew controversy in 2013 after voting against milestones to bring CleanPowerSF to fruition, a San Francisco clean energy program that launched last year.

On Tuesday, Nolan, the outgoing chairman, was lauded for as a “champion” for free Muni for seniors, people with disabilities and youths. Nolan is the former executive director of Project Open Hand and is a former member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the SamTrans board and the Caltrain Joint Powers board.

Lawmakers aplenty wrote to commemorate Nolan’s service, including Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

“It takes the genius of a heart surgeon and the patience of a saint to serve on the SFMTA board,” Speier wrote in a commemoration of Nolan. “Tom has met those standards.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, SFMTA Director of Transit Ed Reiskin announced that Mayor Ed Lee had named April 18 “Tom Nolan Day.”

“It’s a very difficult thing to do, to be on the board and look out for The City,” Nolan said Tuesday. “I’ve been enormously proud to be part of this organization.”

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