Pick the New Metro Board Member

Last week, City Council Member Bernard Parks abruptly announced he would be stepping down as a member of the Metro Board.  Speculation for Parks’ resignation ranged from concerns about ethics allegations from groups such as Damien Goodmons’ Fix Expo organization to people thinking it would be awkward for the Councilman to serve next to County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who defeated Parks in a hotly contested election last year.

However, of greater importance than why Parks is out is who is going to replace him?  By law, Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa gets to appoint three members to the Board but one of them has to be a member of the City Council.  With his other two appointees, Richard Katz and David Flemming, not currently holding elected office we know that Parks’ replacement will be from the Council.

AT LA Now, Steve Hymon narrows the field to four candidates who have expressed interest and unlike Flemming and Katz are not from the Valley: Tom LaBonge, Bill Rosendahl, Herb Wesson and Jose Huizar.

Regular Streetsblog readers are familar with LaBonge and Rosendahl from our regular coverage of the City Council Transportation Committee.  While each certainly has his strong points, each breaks from the Mayor on key issues on which the Metro Board has some say. For a breakdown of the four front runners, click on through the jump.

In LaBonge’s case, he is not impressed with HOT Lanes and congestion pricing theory.  Villaraigosa was a big supporter of Metro’s HOT Lanes plan before it was watered down as to not include times of peak congestion, so he might not want more opposition to HOT Lanes sitting on the board in case the issue comes up again.

Rosendahl has been an outspoken supporter and advocate for Metro in his district, hounding Metro’s lobbyist for rapid service on Venice before every transportation committee hearing and succesfully lobbied for an accelerated timeline for a Green Line extension to LAX.  While he’s certainly on board with the Mayor’s plan for a Subway to the Sea, he has also become an outspoken advocate for grade-separated light rail, a position that could slow construction of the Expo Line.

Herb Wesson hasn’t been a household name on Streetsblog, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been active on transportation issues.  Wesson sits on the Expo Construction Authority and as a former aide to Yvonne Burke likely holds many other views that would sit well with the Mayor.  The only transportation issue I can find where he butted heads with Villaraigosa was over the Pico-Olympic Plan.  However, he was able to block changes to his district so he wasn’t involved in the lawsuit that derailed the Mayor’s plan.

Huizar is also no stranger to transportation and mass transit issues.  Recently, he was the Council Member who first brought the idea of piloting late night train service during the holiday season that ran on completely private funding from November until January.  He is a major force behind bringing trolley service to Broadway and was one of the few Council Members who aggressively fought Metro’s service cut plans for buses in the Spring of last year.

So who would you like to see move on to the Metro Board?  I’ll put my pick in the comments section later today, but wanted to see what you all think first.

  • Rosendahl, without question Also note his Advocacy of Bicyclists

  • Rosendahl.

  • Wad

    One other interesting fact about Herb Wesson.

    In 2000, then-Gov. Gray Davis sent him to L.A. to help mediate the transit strike. He had help … from another man named Smith.

  • Rosendahl.

  • Bill “Mr. Transpo” Rosendahl.

  • Herb Wesson, one time speaker of the assembly, is a competent and connected guy, but Rosendahl’s rhetoric and approach to transportation make me think he’d be a better pick.

    I think Huizar will be the mayor’s choice, but that is only because the two colluded to get a $60 million grade separation in Huizar’s district (using MTA money) right before his re-election campaign. That makes me think the two of them would work as a team (Villaraigosa as the captain of said team), and that is something that our mayor seems to look for in his appointees.

  • Seems like Rosendahl is the consensus here in the early going, and he would be my pick as well. On issues where Rosendahl has taken a stand, (i.e. bike licenses, free parking for hybrids) he’s proven progressive and effective. It’d be interesting to see if he has greater successes as he gets greater power.

  • MidnightRida34

    To piggy back on Umberto’s comment, if Huizar is selected, I don’t think it’s “just” for the reasons you mention.
    The truth is that with the current economic climate and the poor state of our existing transportation issues, we need leaders with urban policy experience (which Huizar has) and that can have the foresight to negotiate with business leaders for creative ways to keep transportation available, which your blog mentions.
    Right now, what our city needs are people ready to get the job done. The Mayor was in DC today (saw him on CNN) advocating for Los Angeles direct funding. That’s leadership. His choice for this position should be someone he can work with and can move Los Angeles forward, someone who does not only understand, but can anticipate, the transit needs of LA.
    My vote goes for Huizar.

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