BART board candidates say labor issues, station quality among top priorities

There are two open seats on the BART Board of Directors representing portions of San Francisco this election.

Those future BART board directors will serve four-year terms, craft legislation and cast votes for policies to shape the future of the transit agency — and possibly future labor agreements in an agency known for tumultuous negotiations.

District 7

BART Board Director Zakhary Mallett, who represents District 7, which includes parts of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties — in particular, the southwestern portion of The City, including the Bayview — is challenged by candidates Lateefah Simon, Will Roscoe and Roland Emerson.

In a September forum with the San Francisco Transit Riders group, Mallett touted his experience sitting on BART’s labor negotiations review committee. He noted he was the sole dissenting vote to ratify the contract between BART’s unions and the district.

“I was not a proponent of some of the demands our unions made in 2013,” Mallett said, when they famously went on strike, bringing the Bay Area to a standstill.

In that same meeting, Simon touted her vision of more than 30,000 units of affordable housing she wishes to see built on available BART land.

In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, she also said she’s wary of the BART Police Department’s role in dealing with homeless people in BART stations. Instead, she said, she would propose safety monitors hired from the community to deal with quality-of-life issues on BART.

“We haven’t looked at, publicly, the police budget,” Simon said, or made “tough choices” about where money should be spent.

Simon also said access for people with disabilities should be expanded on BART, and chastised the district for its frequently inoperable elevators that leave wheelchair users stranded, among others.

Simon has so far raised more than $74,000 for her race, with donations as small as $100 from a cello-teaching Berkeley resident to $4,700 from a group called Democracy for America, based out of Vermont.

Mallet has raised about $20,000, including contributions from real estate interests, unions, and some retirees. Mallet has $5,000 in contributions from the United Contractors Association political action committee, which represents civil engineer unions, as well as
$500 from Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 104’s PAC.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters confirmed Roscoe and Emerson did not file financial statements in the county.

District 9

BART Board Director Tom Radulovich’s District 9 seat was up for grabs late in the election season, with the three candidates fully confirmed by mid-August: Bevan Dufty, Gwyneth Borden and Michael Petrelis.

Dufty was previously San Francisco’s homeless czar. He also served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing District 8, for two terms, and most recently was elected to San Francisco’s Democratic Party board.

As the Examiner has reported, Dufty said he would use his experience in the homeless system to address the homeless populations in city BART stations and ensure BART police serve all people equitably.

“I’m a strong supporter of [the] Black Lives Matter [movement] and am deeply concerned about racial disparities,” he said. “I’m always going to be looking for ways not to repeat that cycle.”

Borden is the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and serves on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. Her 15 years of experience working on transportation issues and time as a BART commuter prepare her for the job, she said.

She told the Examiner she would leave the SFMTA board should she be elected to the BART board.

Petrelis did not respond to inquiries.