Multiple candidates run for two Berkeley seats in BART Board of directors election

BART’s Board of Directors deemed the agency’s decision to cut cellphone service disproportionate at a special meeting.
Kevin Foote/File

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Berkeley’s local election ballot for this November includes candidates running for the BART Board of Directors with a focus on issues of public transit safety and maintenance.

In the two BART districts that include portions of Berkeley, three candidates are running to fill the seat in District 3, and three challengers hope to unseat incumbent Lynette Sweet in District 7.

Rebecca Saltzman, Fred Wright Lopez and Anthony Pegram are running for the open seat in District 3, which was filled by an interim board member after Bob Franklin resigned earlier this year.

“The BART system’s service requirements are varied,” Pegram said on his webpage. “(People) expect the daily operations of BART to be safe, clean and functional — but I believe we can do more than that.”

Saltzman, Lopez and Pegram all focused on issues of station and train maintenance.

Lopez, a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Policy Advisory Council, said he hopes to reduce crime by involving social media to catch “gropers, grabbers and flashers.” He also wants to clean up stations, control costs and make BART more accessible for tourists and the disabled.

“I try to think, ‘How can I make BART benefit everybody?’” Lopez said.

As a Berkeley alumna, Saltzman said she understands the difficulty of getting into the city
because BART does not run between 12:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. If elected, Saltzman said she wants to see BART run until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

In District 7, Sweet is looking to keep the spot she has held for nine years against candidates Margaret Gordon, Zakhary Mallett and Maria Alegria.

Sweet previously served as vice president and president of the BART Board of Directors. She actively pushed for police reforms after the incident in which an officer shot Hayward resident Oscar Grant on a BART platform at the Fruitvale station in 2009. Mallett said the current BART system is “old and outdated” and that there needs to be aggressive changes to modernize it.

Among his other points, Mallett said he would consider providing student-based discounts on BART now that he believes there are better ways to verify that people using the discount are students.

Alegria said it is important to have BART integrated into the community to allow for a “first-class working system with community partners.”

“We need to figure out a way to make BART affordable for students, seniors and the disabled,” she said.

At an Aug. 20 press conference announcing her candidacy, Gordon said she will push for more environmentally friendly alternatives in transportation.

“We need real change and accountability in planning,” Gordon said at the press conference.

Contact Shannon Carroll at [email protected].