As it prepares to add new service and garner more state funding, Cherriots will have four new directors this summer thanks in part to a change in state law.
State lawmakers on Wednesday confirmed Sadie Carney, Ian Davidson, Chi Nguyen and Charles Richards as the newest members of the transit board, which helps set policy for the transit agency.
The four will serve four-year terms and replace directors Steve Evans, Kathy Lincoln, Jerry Thompson and Marcia Kelley when their terms expire June 30. Kelley has been a director since 1989, Thompson since 1999, Evans since 2011 and Lincoln since 2015.
Each new director spoke at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules Committee, sharing the importance transportation plays for the elderly, for low-income people, for minorities and for the city at large.
“I am confident when Salem’s future includes a thriving transit system that it will come in hand with a thriving, economically robust, vibrant and healthier city,” said Carney, a state employee who formerly worked in Cherriots’ community relations department.
Davidson said he would bring experience from his job as a public policy analyst for the state and his experience relying on buses for transportation.
“For those that need and rely on the bus system, they really need and rely on it,” he said. “Cherriots is an essential, if not undervalued, element of our community. It’s a driver of economic development, commerce, it gets people to worship, recreation, and also to accomplish the errands they need to day in and day out.”
Nguyen is a member of Cherriots’ Budget Committee and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.
Richards, retired, said he has worked on several commissions and boards in Salem and stressed the importance of transportation for the elderly.
The four directors took a new route to the board.
Until last year, residents joined the board by way of elections. The Legislature last year changed state law so that the governor appoints directors instead.
Gov. Kate Brown announced her nominations April 16, and they were confirmed Wednesday. Salem Reporter asked how the governor made her selections.
“The governor approached this set of appointments as she does all others: by looking for candidates who will bring a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds that understand and reflect their community,” said Kate Kondayen, spokeswoman for the governor. “The governor also takes into account other factors as well, including statutory requirements such as residency, which applied in this case, and local input or recommendations.”
Lawmakers said the changes brought Salem’s transit agency up to speed with its peers like the Lane Transit District and TriMet, whose directors are also appointed.
Allan Pollock, Cherriots’ general manager, said the change could entice more people to consider serving on the board.
“One of the barriers we felt was people having to run a campaign,” Pollock said. “It can be a barrier. This will allow us to really focus on being more reflective of the community.”
Lincoln, an outgoing director, said the move shakes up the board somewhat.
“The idea was to kind of bring out the old wood and bring in some fresh new faces — which, that’s a perspective to look at,” she said. “I would have thought at least one of the current members would have been appointed just to keep some continuity.”
The remaining directors — Robert Krebs, Colleen Busch and Doug Rodgers — may serve out the rest of their terms, which expire 2021.
The new-look board will go to work just as more state funding is poised to arrive.
House Bill 2017, passed two years ago to raise an estimated $5.3 billion for transportation statewide, is delivering its first allocations this season. The state forecasts Cherriots will receive $16.5 million over the next two years and will receive millions more in the coming years.
Steve Dickey, Cherriots’ director of transportation development, said those dollars will fund Saturday service, which is expected to return in September. More bus service on holidays is expected to start May 2020, as well. Some money will also go to Woodburn and Silverton’s transportation projects.
After those services are in place, Dickey said Cherriots will then consider making some routes more frequent or whether to add new routes in areas that don’t have service.
“Those are the kinds of questions that I anticipate (the board of directors) will really be embracing,” he said.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB.
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