We are not experts on transportation, so take our recommendations with a grain of salt.
AC TRANSIT BOARD
At-Large: Dollene Jones
We repeat here, our recommendations from 2014:
Joel Young, the incumbent for this seat, should not be re-elected. Not only did he have a nasty domestic abuse scandal which derailed his campaign for Assembly several years ago, but he was caught taking confidential AC Transit information for use in his private practice as a lawyer. That’s the type of unethical behavior that we should not condone on our elected officials.
Alas, he’s been good to a segment of Labor and they are backing him. This support was enough to scare off strong potential challengers. Dollene Jones is a retired bus driver who lives and breathes buses. She goes to meetings, she knows the system, and while her overall knowledge may be limited, it’s ampler than her opponent.
Ward 4: No Recommendation
As a matter of principle, we like contested elections because they provide voters the opportunity to make a choice between candidates and make their displeasure known with incumbents that have not done an acceptable job. However, candidates who step up to challenge incumbents need to be half-way serious. Elections cost taxpayers money and voters time. Nicholas Harvey, who is challenging incumbent Mark Williams in this race, is simply not a serious candidate. He is running for four other offices (EBMUD board, Hayward School Board, Eden Health District Board and Fairview Fire Protection District) at the same time. No serious candidate should run – much less serve – in more than one elected position at the same time (with the obvious exception of a party’s central committee).
Incumbent Mark Williams is a progressive, but he was fined by the FPPC for not filing any campaign finance statements since 2011. He seems to be taking his re-election for granted, and doesn’t even have a campaign website.
Ward 5: Diane Shaw
Diane Shaw is new to politics but not to transportation. She is a retired software systems manager for SamTrans and a regular bus rider. She has an overall progressive ideology, has a thorough understanding of the issues facing AC Transit and the intelligence to deal with the challenges that present themselves to the Board.
Her opponent, Kewal Singh, has conflict of interests as he works at BART and represents transportation workers. Moreover, he is a big supporter of mass surveillance and wants to see cameras, including those with facial recognition, all over buses and bus stops.
District 4: Robert Raburn
Incumbent Robert Raburn lives, sleeps and breathes BART. A transportation expert with a PhD in Urban Studies from Cal, Raburn lead the East Bay Bicycle Coalition for many years. He has spearheaded many innovative projects at BART, including a youth clipper card that provides half-priced fares and solar plants that will eventually power all of BART.
While we don’t always agree with Raburn and he is more conservative than other members, his opponent is a Republican.
District 6: Anu Natarajan
This is a default recommendation as we never managed to talk with her opponent, Liz Ames. But we are confident on supporting Anu because, while she is by no means a progressive, she is a thoughtful thinker very concerned with public policy, including on issues of policing and mass surveillance in BART. We are encouraged that she has the support of Rebecca Saltzman and Lateefah Simon, the two most progressive members of the BART board. Ames, meanwhile, is supported by the most conservatives members and the BART police union.