Usually, I don’t recommend elected officials serving in the same office for 24 years, such as Joel Keller, who was elected to the BART Board on the same night in November 1994 that I was elected to the Antioch City Council. That’s because elected representatives tend to become complacent or arrogant in office and stop listening to their constituents, and end up doing the bidding of the powerful, special interests who support them and contribute to their re-election campaigns.
However, Joel is different. Having served on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and three of the four transportation boards in East County, including as Chairman of the Bypass Authority in 1998 when we purchased the right-of-way for the State Route 4 extension (aka The Bypass) from Lone Tree Way to Balfour Road, I’ve learned the difficult lesson that infrastructure projects can take a long time. Too much time for most all of our liking. But, that’s another issue. My point is, it’s taken that time for Joel to get BART extended to Antioch.
Although it’s not full or “real” BART, as we Antioch residents would have preferred, the bottom line is Joel was able to wade through the funding limitations from BART and the federal government, as well as the opposition by other regions in the BART District and directors who represent those regions and make his promise and commitment a reality. Antioch has a BART station. During his next four years, if re-elected, I believe Joel will be able to help deliver further extensions in East County, first to Laurel Road – which will benefit Antioch’s economic development area for job creation and serve the residents of Oakley – then to Brentwood near Sand Creek Road.
Joel has done what he said he would do, and he listens to his constituents. Most recently, Joel heard the complaints about safety on the BART system. In order to ensure the rest of the board members heard the complaints from the people in his district who can’t attend their normal day time meetings in Oakland, had the board hold a night time meeting in Pittsburg. Then, due to the overwhelming response by riders to the opening of the Antioch BART Station, Joel heard the outcry for more parking spaces, and he delivered by getting the other BART Board Members to join him in voting to fund 800 more spaces.
I believe Joel has earned one more term on the BART Board, which most likely will be his last, and recommend we re-elect him.