Pick Who You Think Will Replace Metro CEO Art Leahy

Earlier this week Metro CEO Art Leahy tendered his resignation as of April, 2015. Today, in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way, we invite you, our readers, to pick Leahy’s successor.

The Twitter and Facebook buzz, soon after picking Senator Barbara Boxer’s successor, bubbled up a few potential candidates for Leahy’s spot. We asked a few of our friends and some seedy informants, too, and generated a list of over a dozen people who just might be able to fill his empty shoes… or something like that. Readers can vote for your favorites through the end of January.

Who will be the next head of Metro?

  • Alex Clifford (30%, 102 Votes)
  • Phil Washington (14%, 47 Votes)
  • Rick Cole (13%, 45 Votes)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan (9%, 31 Votes)
  • Carolyn Flowers (6%, 20 Votes)
  • Pam O'Connor (5%, 18 Votes)
  • Keith Parker (4%, 15 Votes)
  • Tim Papandreou (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Jaime de la Vega (4%, 12 Votes)
  • Will Kempton (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Gabe Klein (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Elon Musk (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Nat Ford (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jay Walder (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Michael DePallo (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 339

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No guarantee that the Metro board of directors will agree with our winner, or if these folks actually want the job, but, you never know. And we might all learn something about the next head of Metro.

Some Serious Contenders

Alex Clifford
Alex Clifford. Photo via St. Charles Reporter

Alex Clifford – Clifford is a former executive at Metro, where his portfolio at times included oversight of bus, rail, Metrolink, and more. In 2011, he left Metro to head Chicago’s transit agency Metra, where, it was hoped he would clean up a troubled agency. He didn’t quite completely clean house, so, in June 2013, Clifford resigned from Metra. Our rumor mill suggests he was “too honest” for Metra. He is currently back in California, heading Santa Cruz Metro.

Carolyn Flowers. Photo via CATS
Carolyn Flowers. Photo via CATS

Carolyn Flowers –  Another Metro alum, Flowers was a long time administrator at Metro, rising to the rank of Chief Operating Officer. She left Metro in 2009, to served as former head of Charlotte, North Carolina, transit agency CATS. She spearheaded the charge for Charlotte’s new Blue Line light rail extension. A month ago, she departed CATS to join the Federal Transit Agency.

Nathaniel P. Ford. Photo via SF Park flickr
Nathaniel P. Ford. Photo via SF Park flickr

Nathaniel P. “Nat” Ford – Ford headed Atlanta’s MARTA transit agency from 2000 to 2006. Ford then served as head of San Francisco SFMTA from 2006 to 2011, where he was honored by the S.F. Bicycle Coalition, but, overall, received mixed reviews. He currently serves as the head of Jacksonville, FL, JTA.

Keith Parker. Photo via Eyes on Atlanta
Keith Parker. Photo via Eyes on Atlanta

Keith Parker – Parker made Streetsblog USA’s 2012 list of 12 transportation visionaries, where he was described as someone who “knows what it takes to make transit work in a car-centric city.” Parker headed Charlotte’s CATS, before moving on to San Antonio, where he re-directed funding from sprawl to streetcar. In December, 2012, he became the head of Atlanta transit agency MARTA.

Jay Walder
Jay Walder. Photo via Fortunelivemedia Flickr

Jay Walder – Walder was the head of NYC MTA from 2009 to 2011. It may be too soon for him to jump ship, as he just became head of national Alta Bike Share in October 2014

Phillip A. Washington. Photo via Eno Ctr for Transportation
Phillip A. Washington. Photo via Eno Ctr for Transportation

Phillip A. “Phil” Washington – Washington is from Chicago, and had a distinguished military career before moving up the ranks to head Denver’s RTD. In Denver, Washington has overseen system expansion and public-private partnerships.

And Some Long Shots 

Rick Cole – Currently serving as Deputy Mayor under Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Cole has a no-nonsense approach to municipal budgets, and, especially in earlier service in Pasadena and Ventura, he showed plenty of great leadership on urban transportation and livability issues.

Michael DePallo – DePallo recently resigned from Metrolink, where his agency was having, let’s say, issues. Let’s hope he doesn’t get kicked upstairs.

Jaime De La Vega – Former LADOT head de la Vega sure has a lot of Metro knowledge, serving as key transportation staffer to L.A. Mayors Riordan and Villaraigosa.

Will Kempton – Kempton was the face of Southern California Caltrans, now heads think tank Transportation California.

Gabe KleinKlein is a livability rock star, former head of Chicago DOT and Zipcar.

Elon Musk – Celebrity head of SpaceX, Musk might be able to hyperloop Los Angeles.

Pam O’Connor – Santa Monica people count livability leader O’Connor was recently replaced on the Metro Board, could she lead the agency?

Tim Papandreou – Former Metro sustainability staffer Papandreou is doing great things in S.F., some day we’d like to see him back in Southern California.

Janette Sadik-KhanSadik-Khan seems to be some kind of up-and-coming transportation leader, we think.



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