Local transit agencies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With budget shortages and line cuts, AC Transit and BART need strong leadership to steer them through to the other side of this crisis.
For AC Transit, incumbent Chris Peeples and newcomers Jovanka Beckles and Jean Walsh will be the candidates to do just that. For BART, incumbent Lateefah Simon would continue to provide inclusive leadership to benefit BART riders.
Chris Peeples for AC Transit director at large
AC Transit is in a race against time. The system recently reinstated fare collection, but it’s going to need to do a lot more than that to ensure it can remain viable after the federal relief it has received runs out next June.
While ridership has steeply declined since the pandemic began, many still rely on AC Transit to bring them to and from work. The district needs someone with a proven track record and the relationships necessary to secure funding so that this essential service can keep serving those who need it most.
Chris Peeples has the experience to help support AC Transit during these times. With 23 years of experience on the board of directors of AC Transit, Peeples has led the system through a multitude of challenges. He has also worked hard to ensure that AC Transit is prepared for the future, through efforts such as the Zero-Emissions Bus Rollout Plan, lobbying for federal aid and financial planning lest funding falls through. We are confident that he can continue to keep AC Transit running efficiently if reelected.
Vote Chris Peeples for the AC Transit Board of Directors at-large seat.
Jovanka Beckles for AC Transit Ward 1
Jovanka Beckles is the only candidate equipped to handle AC Transit’s pandemic-induced budget cuts, service reductions and rising fares. Beckles advocated for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 — the union that has fought for AC Transit workers to receive fair wages and championed legislation that raised the minimum wage to $15 — demonstrating her commitment to workers’ rights.
Beckles’ platforms focus on making public transportation accessible for marginalized community members. If elected, she plans to create more union transit jobs, lower fares and expand the public bus service. She is also a staunch supporter of Proposition 15, which could increase AC Transit’s budget by as much as $25 million by imposing taxes on large corporations, ensuring job stability.
New leadership is required to amend AC Transit’s existing issues, and Beckles has the prowess to fight for working people in the East Bay.
Vote Jovanka Beckles for the AC Transit Board of Directors Ward 1.
Jean Walsh for AC Transit Ward 2
The AC Transit Board of Directors faces challenges in fixing financial issues posed by COVID-19. While it adapts, Jean Walsh has been advocating for programs to serve low-income riders and discounts for high school students, ensuring marginalized community members are at the forefront of any policy decisions.
Walsh’s background in public outreach demonstrates her ability to be transparent and accessible to riders while listening to their concerns, further solidifying her commitment to reliable transportation.
As a member of transportation advocacy groups such as the Transit Riders Union and Transbay Coalition, she acknowledges the problems workers face and wants to increase gas taxes and implement congestion pricing to provide stable funds for AC Transit and decrease emissions.
Walsh expressed a desire to improve public transportation and represent riders, and she has the experience and vision to achieve those goals.
Vote Jean Walsh for the AC Transit Board of Directors Ward 2.
Lateefah Simon for BART District 7
With years of experience in civil rights activism, organizing and fundraising, in addition to serving as president of the BART Board of Directors, Lateefah Simon is prepared to continue working to improve BART’s accessibility.
As someone who relies on BART for transportation — Simon is legally blind and unable to drive — she believes that to make BART truly accessible, it must be affordable. She has already helped implement a means-based fare policy, reducing fares by 20% for qualifying riders, and plans to do more to improve affordability.
Simon has also been a vocal advocate for policing reform, and she intends to expand BART’s unarmed ambassador program, unlike her opponent, whose main priority seems to be increasing BART’s police presence. Simon’s experience and approach toward accountability, police reform and BART’s unarmed safety personnel are what make her the obvious choice.
Vote Lateefah Simon for the BART Board of Directors District 7.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the fall 2020 opinion editor, Katherine Shok.