All four BART directors running for reelection won bids to retain their seats, with embattled Director Debora Allen cruising to victory with a wide margin.
According to the latest voter tallies, Allen defeated her District 1 challenger Jamie Salcido with a little more than 64% of the vote, compared to Salcido’s nearly 27%.
Allen’s other opponent, Emmy Akin, earned just over 9% of the 130,899 ballots cast in the race.
“I’m not just doing the job at election time. I’ve been working hard at this almost at a full-time basis for almost four years,” Allen said. “I’ve been very visible and transparent with the media.”
“I’m out there working on issues that people want, working on behalf of riders on what they want and on behalf our taxpayers and what they want,” Allen said.
District 1 is in Contra Costa County where the Concord, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre and Walnut Creek stations are.
Allen has often clashed with her fellow BART directors over the transit agency’s budget and policing issues, among other things, and six of her fellow directors — Lateefah Simon, Bevan Dufty, Mark Foley, Janice Li, Robert Raburn and Rebecca Saltzman — all endorsed Salcido during the campaign.
“I’m out there working on issues that people want, working on behalf of riders on what they want and on behalf our taxpayers and what they want.”Debora Allen, BART director
“We should not be defunding the police. I heard that over and over from my voters, but I had an opponent that was backed and recruited and funded by my fellow directors who have been pushing that directive,” Allen said.
She added that she does think the system needs to find ways to “improve our policing techniques and processes.”
Allen said Wednesday that one of the transit agency’s biggest challenges revolves around its drastically shrinking ridership and revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve been bleeding money,” Allen said.
At an Oct. 22 meeting, BART directors were told the system could face a $33 million deficit by next summer if it doesn’t recover ridership — which is hovering around 13% of normal — or if the federal government doesn’t pass another relief bill.
Allen said she is advocating for a combination of budget cuts and new revenue to shore up the struggling system.
In the wake of Allen’s victory, Saltzman used Twitter to express her disappointment, saying, in part, that “it’s important to note that the candidates she and BART police union recruited to run against (Simon, Dufty and John McPartland) all lost badly, and they were unsuccessful recruiting a candidate to run against me.”
Saltzman ran unopposed.
Dufty, who earned nearly 67% of the vote, defeated three challengers to retain his District 9 seat, which encompasses most of San Francisco.
Simon defeated challenger Sharon Kidd with nearly 56% of the vote in District 7, which includes parts of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.
John McPartland, was able to keep his District 5 seat but won by the narrowest of margins compared to his fellow incumbents.
McPartland earned nearly 38% of the vote, while challengers Steven Dunbar garnered 34% and Mike Wallace earned roughly 28%.
“I am grateful for the confidence of the voters to allow me to continue to do the job I’ve been working at for the past three terms,” McPartland said.
He said he will work to “provide for the safety of the public and to sustain ourselves against the financial challenges during the low ridership and regain the trust of our patronage and provide for the safety and efficient transportation and well-being of our passengers.”
Bay City News Foundation reporters Sam Richards and Eli Walsh contributed to this story.