Why I’m endorsing Elizabeth Echols for AC Transit Board

18 Feb

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.

And for other takes on why we endorsed Echols, check out Stop, Drop and Roll, John Knox White’s Alameda based blog, the Friends of BRT blog, A Better Oakland, and Future Oakland.

3 Responses to “Why I’m endorsing Elizabeth Echols for AC Transit Board”

  1. AustinOAK February 18, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    Thanks LITO – I second that endorsement. Elizabeth is an exceptional and dedicated person. I know her to be modest that you hardly get out of her (ans I was so excited to learn) she was on the Obama Transition Team in D.C. dealing with I believe IT issues. So glad you posted this. Here is hoping she gets this role. I hope I get to work Progressive Dem politics with her again soon. I will always cherish our photo session of her getting her pic with Obama (life size stand-up cut-out). Very fun. The Oak Dem Headquaters she helped run was the most progressive in the country I do dare say. One of the very most at least. She helped me with Candidate suggestions at the Alameda Dem party board elections awhile back early winter. I really appreciated that.

  2. Penrose February 24, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Elizabeth Echols is a good choice. The Sierra Club played fast and loose with their endorsement of Pam Belchamber. See:

    http://www.baycrossings.com/archives/2004/10_November/vallejo_ferry_chief_dismissed.htm

    http://www.paulgriffo.com/vallejo1.htm

  3. Becks February 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    The AC Transit Board voted this afternoon to appoint Joel Young to the board. Elizabeth was a close second.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: