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2016 L.A. Streetsies: Vote for Civil Servant of the Year

10:47 AM PST on December 29, 2016

Today we open the votes for civil servant Streetsie for 2016. This award goes to folks that do the day-to-day work for municipalities and transportation agencies. Staff can sometimes get overlooked in the heat of politics, so it is critical to acknowledge the civil servants who play huge roles in making cities more livable.

Voting starts today and will close on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at noon. Reader voting accounts for one half of the scoring this year, with one quarter going to SBLA staff voting, and another quarter going to the SBLA steering committee vote. Last year we had a lot of apparent robo-votes coming in in large quantities from a few IP addresses, so we now have some safeguards to try to separate the individual rebel votes from imperial droid votes.

Make sure to also vote in polls for Elected Official and Advocacy - Individual. Keep your browser peeled for four more categories coming this week: Business, Media/Journalism, and Advocacy Group.

Inaugural Expo train pulls into Downtown Santa Monica station Friday, May 20. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Steers/City of Santa Monica
Inaugural Expo train pulls into Downtown Santa Monica station Friday, May 20. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Steers/City of Santa Monica

Expo Authority - The May 2016 opening of the 6.6-mile phase 2 of the Metro Expo Line was one of the most exciting stories of the year. The immediately-popular new line extended Metro rail's total to over 100 miles, while connecting the system to great westside destinations. There are a lot of elected officials and community activists who made Expo possible, but day-to-day project design and construction was the responsibility of a little-known governmental joint powers authority formed to build Expo. The Expo Authority earns their Streetsie nomination for completing this critical rail line.

Rubina Ghazarian - image via LADOT Bike Blog
Rubina Ghazarian - image via LADOT Bike Blog

Rubina Ghazarian - Rubina Ghazarian is the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation's (LADOT) bicycle coordinator. She was the city's point-person for Metro Bike Share's successful July 2016 opening in downtown Los Angeles. Ghazarian oversaw identifying, selecting, negotiating, and finalizing site locations, design, and installation for the bike-share kiosks. There are many others working to make bike-share successful, including Metro, Bicycle Transportation Systems, and Multicultural Communities for Mobility, but Ghazarian deserves recognition for her key role in bike-share implementation and future L.A. expansion planned for 2017.

The Foothill Gold Line pulling into Arcadia
The Foothill Gold Line pulling into Arcadia

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority - This year's other big opening took place in early March. The 11-mile Foothill Extenstion took Metro Gold Line east from Pasadena to Azusa. The new line is spurring a transit-based reorientation of cities across the San Gabriel Valley. Foothill Gold Line design and construction is the work of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, another joint powers authority. The Foothill Gold Line Authority is not resting on their laurels, though. They are rolling up their sleeves to get to work on extending the line another dozen miles east to Montclair; that project is likely to be among the first rail lines funded by Measure M.

LADOT engineer Zaki Mustafa, with two-time Streetsie winner Valerie Watson. Photo via Facebook
LADOT engineer Zaki Mustafa, with two-time Streetsie winner Valerie Watson. Photo via Facebook

Zaki Mustafa - LADOT engineer Zaki Mustafa oversaw the design and implementation of numerous great LADOT livability projects, including 175+ miles of bike lanes, L.A.'s first sharrows, scramble crosswalks at Hollywood and Highland, bus-only lanes, and People St parklets and plazas starting with Sunset Triangle Plaza. Mustafa implemented the city's first green bike lanes, and negotiated with the film industry to keep as much of them as possible. He served as president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) where he focused on helping other cities to implement livability projects. Mustafa commutes by bus, and, in his spare time, organizes an ongoing holiday drive that has given away more than 5,000 bicycles to needy families.

Metro CEO Phil Washington speaking in May 2015. Photo: Joe Linton, Streetsblog L.A.
Metro CEO Phil Washington. Photo: Joe Linton, Streetsblog L.A.

Phil Washington - The big story of 2016 was the passage of Metro's Measure M. Numerous civil servants - also elected officials and advocates - contributed to Measure M's success, but the agency leader most central to crafting the winning proposal was Metro's CEO Phil Washington. There is a lot to like about Phil Washington. He emphasizes a balanced transportation system that advances equity and serves communities, including education and apprenticeships for disadvantaged workers. Metro has a difficult job of balancing the forces behind a county-full of transportation concerns. Measure M makes parts of that job easier, but it will still take a great leader to manage the job and to deliver on Measure M's aspirations. Washington has been great so far, and should go down in L.A. history by continuing his excellence.

Past Winners: Dale Benson, John Jones III, Paul Backstrom, Jaime De La Vega, and Rye Baerg

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