Two incumbents with lengthy tenures will face a group of challengers for the right to represent San Francisco residents on BART’s board of directors in November’s election.
Tom Radulovich, a 16-year member of the BART board, is being opposed by two candidates to represent District 9, an area of central San Francisco that stretches from the Financial District to the Outer Mission district. Lynette Sweet, who was first appointed to the board in 2003, will square off against three opponents for the District 7 seat, which includes a thin sliver of the eastern part of The City but is located mostly in the East Bay.
Sweet, a Bayview district resident who’s been on the board since 2003, is the only one of the four District 7 candidates with a home in San Francisco. Of the two incumbents, her challengers appear to have a greater pedigree.
One is environmental activist Margaret Gordon, a former Port of Oakland commissioner whose term on that body was not renewed by the Oakland City Council earlier this year. Zakhary Mallett, a Pinole resident with a master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley, also is running for the seat. Another hopeful is former Pinole Mayor Maria Alegria, who was recalled by voters, along with a member of the City Council, following conflict-of-interest allegations involving a local business.
Meanwhile, Radulovich, who is seeking his fifth term at BART, will square off against Cole Valley resident Peter Klivans and Luke Lucas, a senior mobility manager at T-Mobile. Klivans ran against Radulovich in 2008, securing more than 15 percent of the vote. Lucas formerly sat on a Walnut Creek transportation commission.
Radulovich, who won with 84 percent of the vote in 2008, and Sweet, who won with 74 percent, can both boast of overseeing one of the few transit agencies in the country to post a budget surplus in recent years. BART is experiencing record ridership growth and is projected to end this fiscal year with a $30 million to $35 million operating surplus.
However, the agency has gaping holes in its capital budget, which covers long-term infrastructure projects and maintenance work. Over the next 20 years, BART faces a $7.5 billion shortfall in its capital budget. The agency also has received low marks for the cleanliness of its trains, although it has recently replaced some of the filthier seats.
If either Sweet or Radulovich loses their seat, it would mark the second time in two years that an incumbent BART director was ousted. In 2010, Carole Ward Allen lost her re-election bid for District 4 to Robert Raburn.
With nine contested districts, BART is one of only a handful of transit agencies in the country to have a publicly elected governing board.
Meet the candidates, in their own words
District 7: Representing Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties, plus liaison for San Bruno station.
I will be a director for all of District 7. … 83 percent of District 7 is in the East Bay, with 60 percent of the population in western communities and 23 percent in Alameda County. The city of Richmond is the largest city in the district. I have over 16 years of combined legislative experience in state, regional and local government, and social justice advocacy. I have an accomplished record advocating for fairness and equitable transportation policies.
District 7 needs strong advocacy that I will provide. BART needs leadership to change the culture to be more receptive to community values and new ideas. District 7 is not currently aggressively represented. As a former Port of Oakland commissioner, I believe I can provide the advocacy through organization and collaboration that my constituents need.
Of the four candidates running for BART District 7, I am the only candidate who has a background in transportation — either academically or professionally. I am also the only candidate with a graduate degree and who has over 10 years of active engagement in transportation planning through transit advocacy and civic participation in transportation projects.
I’m the people’s candidate and I’m not in anyone’s pocket. At the end of the day, my big focus is to bring some parity to our contracts so that women- and minority-owned businesses actually get a fair share at BART. I also want to make sure that our police oversight reforms stay in place so that we never face an Oscar Grant-type of situation ever again.
District 9: Representing San Francisco County, plus liaison for Daly City station.
Sixteen years is too long for an incumbent. … I have the transportation, public administration/government, public safety and real estate development background and related experience for this position. My experience includes vice chair of the Walnut Creek Transportation Commission, a member of the San Francisco Police Department and a former member of the Albany Traffic and Safety Commission.
Is BART the best it can be? I believe the answer is “no” and that it is time for new ideas and new creativity on the BART board. The Bay Area has the resources, population and environmental awareness to have a world-class transportation system. If I am elected to serve on the BART board, I will strive to create that world-class transportation.
I have been an early advocate for … improving the rider experience; balancing BART expansion with capacity and system reinvestment; improving BART signage; building or strengthening transit-oriented communities around BART stations; improving BART’s accessibility through universal design, sustainability, civilian review of BART police and community policing; managing parking better; improving late-
night service; diversifying the transit technologies BART deploys to include standard-gauge rail and bus; and expanding pedestrian, bicycle and transit access to the BART system.