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SF Bicycle Coalition organizer enters BART board race as local politico drops out

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Janice Li pulled papers Thursday to run for the BART board election. (Courtesy photo)

The race for a San Francisco seat on the local BART board is heating up as high-profile newcomers enter (and drop from) the race.

Thursday morning Janice Li pulled qualification papers to run for BART board. Li may emerge as an early front-runner due to her experience as an organizer with the politically-influential San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and the high-profile backers who flanked her filing — Assemblymember Phil Ting, BART director Bevan Dufty and Supervisor Jane Kim.

Also Thursday, another BART board candidate, Kanishka Karunaratne Cheng, announced by email to her backers that she would withdraw from the race after to accepting a “new role” from which she will be able to “positively affect” The City’s future.

Li is running for the BART Board of Directors District 8 seat currently held by Nick Josefowitz, who is himself running to represent District 2 on the Board of Supervisors in The City. The BART District 8 director seat will appear on November’s ballot, and represents Balboa Park, Embarcadero and Montgomery Stations. The election comes at a time when BART is investing in the future, following the successful passage of a $3.5 billion bond in 2016 for future purchases like new train cars or maintaining vital infrastructure.

Li told the San Francisco Examiner that she’s a life-long transit nerd.

“As a queer Chinese woman and an immigrant with a progressive heart that drives all that I do, I believe I can represent the west side and be a fierce advocate for public transit,” Li said. I love public transit. I love riding Muni. I love riding BART. And we need someone who believes in the civic space of public transit and will be present and listening and leaning into communities — neighborhoods, community groups, unions, etc — to be elected. I believe I’m that person.”

Other potential candidates who have pulled papers for BART board include Jonathen Lyens, an advocate for people with disabilities who previously ran for the Board of Supervisors to represent the Richmond District, William Walker, a former City College of San Francisco student trustee, and Melanie Nutter, the former director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, among others.

The deadline for BART board candidates to officially file and qualify for the November ballot is August 10.

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