The day after his more than 7-point win in the BART board of directors race over 24-year incumbent James Fang, clean-energy entrepreneur Nick Josefowitz, who considered himself the underdog, said he was “blown away” by his margin of victory and that it was “still sinking in.”
A 31-year-old Pacific Heights resident, who moved to San Francisco from London a few years ago, was up against the longest-seated BART board member, and the only Republican in The City. Josefowitz garnered 49.91 percent of votes while Fang received 42.51 percent.
“I think we pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the San Francisco election this year, and I'm so proud of doing that,” Josefowitz told The San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday. “You know when I started this campaign, no one thought that Fang could be beaten even though a lot of folks didn't think he did a good job. They felt he was too powerful, they felt he was too entrenched.”
Fang, 53, who did not respond to requests for comment on the results, had touted his efforts during the race in helping secure federal and state funds for the agency's Oakland International Airport connector and said BART reached a roughly 95 percent on-time performance rate under his leadership, as well as generated $50 million to $60 million in annual surplus.
But Josefowitz, founder of the solar-energy company RenGen Energy and Leadership For A Clean Economy, took aim at the regional transit system's filthiness — and ran his platform on a promise to clean that up.
“If someone's there for 24 years, you're kind of responsible for the state of the system,” Josefowitz said. “You know, there's no one else to blame.”
The new BART director for District 8 said he knocked on more than 80,000 doors and spoke with almost 20,000 voters, working up until polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We had a feeling that people wanted an end to the dirty politics and the cronyism,” Josefowitz said. “And to see that validated at the ballot box is incredible.”
Tom Radulovich, a BART director in San Francisco who endorsed Josefowitz, said the newcomer had an “uphill climb but did everything right,” particularly with a strong field campaign, fundraising and volunteer numbers.
“I think Nick is a great newcomer for San Francisco and has a lot of energy, a lot of projects he wants to do really focused on the urban core, on service, on sustainability,” he said. “So I'm happy to have him on the board.”
Fang came out ahead in absentee votes, but Josefowitz handily won the election vote. In order to win, Fang would have to get more of the remaining votes than he got in absentees, which Radulovich said, “I don't think is likely to happen.”
Josefowitz vows to clean up BART stations and implement a late-night service, among other projects.