I’m happy to announce that a group of East Bay transit advocates that I am a part of have endorsed Elizabeth Echols for Rebecca Kaplan’s vacated At-Large seat on the AC Transit Board of Directors.
When this seat became vacant, leaders of local transit advocacy organizations came together to decide who we thought was best suited to represent bus riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the board. We identified seven applicants and invited them to answer our questionnaire, and interviewed six. Our group includes leaders of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Friends of BRT, the No on KK Committee, Alameda Transit Advocates, the City of Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley, Livable Berkeley, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and TransForm.
Going into this endorsement process, I must admit that I was a bit nervous. Rebecca Kaplan was such an effective board member, and I didn’t know if we’d find someone who could match Rebecca’s experience, knowledge, and energy. I was pleasantly surprised by the answers to our questionnaire from all of the candidates and by the new ideas and vision the candidates demonstrated in our interviews. It’s exciting to see so many qualified candidates vying for a position that is so important to me but often gets overlooked by others.
Ultimately though, Elizabeth Echols stood out among the group of applicants. She has a clear vision for the agency, but is also open to learning more from the transit and bike/ped community.
She also has an absurd amount of experience that makes her particularly well-suited for this position. Her work on the Obama presidential transition team and in the Clinton White House has prepared her for working with the federal government and managing fast-paced projects. Her experience in information technology, particularly in her work as Director of Policy for Google, has led to her focus on technological innovation. Specifically, she plans to improve AC Transit’s online trip planning and enhance real time trip planning for riders via expanded use of bus shelter signs and cell phone alerts.
Beyond what you can find on paper in her resume and endorsement letters, Elizabeth is energetic and clearly committed to moving AC Transit forward. When I was preparing to write this blog post, I thought about my first encounters with Elizabeth. She was the Co-Chair of the Oakland United Democratic Campaign (UDC) in 2008, and the UDC office was always filled with incredible energy and dozens (and on election day, hundreds) of volunteers. Every time I phoned there for Rebecca Kaplan or No on 8, I saw Elizabeth running around, making sure everything was functioning smoothly at the office. I didn’t know her at the time, but I knew immediately that she was someone I wanted to know and someone I’d work with in the future.
Now I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity to work with her as an AC Transit Board member. If she can bring the energy she brought to the Oakland UDC to AC Transit, the agency will have a bright future.
For more about our endorsement process and a surprisingly detailed overview of all of the SEVENTEEN candidates who applied for the seat, head to A Better Oakland.