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|Political Philosophy for H. E. Christian "Chris" Peeples|
Issues And Achievements
I have been active in progressive Democratic politics for over 45 years. I have worked in every campaign season since working for John Kennedy in 1960. Since moving to the East Bay in 1975, I have been active in most of the progressive campaigns over the last 30 years. I am an active member of the Wellstone, El Cerrito and MGO Democratic clubs.
I have served on the AC Transit Board as an At-Large Director for over eleven years. For five of those years, I have been elected by my fellow directors as President or Vice-President of the Board. I am currently serving as the Board President.
Some of the issues on which I have worked:
● Service To Youth And The Economically Vulnerable. I have been a strong supporter of our youth programs; from our attempt to provide free transit to youth who qualify for free and reduced price lunches to our current low cost 31 day youth pass. We recently agreed with Peralta Community Colleges to establish a class pass for full time students. I have always supported service deployment policies that empathize service to people who need and use the bus.
● Clean Fuels. AC has the largest, most advanced and most successful fuel cell bus program in the world. I have been and will continue to be the Board's primary proponent of the fuel cell program. We have a 22 bus experiment to set standards for bio-diesel and gas to liquid fuel to test their impact on our engines. Unlike some other agencies that have made a political decision to jump into bio-diesel, we are using our expertise in operations and maintenance and leaving others to analyze the impact of food-based sources of bio-diesel.
● Training For The Next Generation And Green Collar Jobs. We provide extensive training for our coach operators and service employees. Beyond that, we have two state certified apprenticeship programs--Heavy Duty Coach Mechanics and Facilities Maintenance--and our latest ATU contract has a pilot program for an apprenticeship program in body work. These programs give us excellent employees who stay with us for their entire working lives. Our Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus program is discussed above. Our mechanics are being trained in this cutting edge green collar technology using materials we helped develop.
● Environmental Justice. AC has put Environmental Justice ("EJ") at the forefront of both our policies and our actions. We adopted a policy strongly supporting Environmental Justice and sponsored an conference on EJ in transportation. More importantly, we have done extensive EJ analyses on all of our major decisions to insure that our actions have the greatest possible benefit for and least detriment to disadvantaged communities. I have been and will continue to be a strong supporter of AC's EJ efforts.
● Dealing With Outside Attacks. I lead the recent (and ongoing) fight against Bush's FTA (Federal Transit Administration)'s attempt to prohibit transit agencies from providing supplemental school service so that schools would contract with private providers of "yellow bus" school service. Not only are those private providers usually non-union, but our over-stretched urban school districts (Oakland Unified alone estimated that it would cost them "tens of millions of dollars" to replace AC's service--AC also serves 12 other districts) can't afford to do so. This is just one example of the anti-union and anti-public sector attitude that we must fight all the time.
● Air Quality Provided By Our Union Employees. Since I have been on the Board, AC has reduced the asthma causing particulate matter from our bus engines by 93% and will reduce it another 5% in the next two years. We have reduced our smog causing oxides of nitrogen by 52% and will reduce them another 12% over the next five years. The state-of-the-art equipment that has helped accomplish this reduction was developed in San Leandro by Cleaire, a subsidiary of Cummins West, tested in AC's buses by our employees and is installed and maintained by our ATU 192 mechanics.
● Funding. I have participated in aggressively seeking funds from all possible sources: Sales taxes + Measure "B" in Alameda County, Measures "C" and "J" in Contra Costa County and Proposition "K" in San Francisco; Parcel tax measure "AA" and "BB" and our proposed new tax in Northern Alameda County; Toll revenues -- Regional Measure 2; an equitable share of funding from MTC (including attempts to restructure the MTC) and lobbying for other state and federal funds. I will continue to actively seek funds for our riders from all possible sources.
● Auto Independence. In the core of our district, we enable people (the 61% of our riders who use us regularly, including the 31% who do not have a car n their household and all others) to be largely independent of their automobiles. For riders on the periphery of our District, I was unable to convince the Board to not support park and ride lots, but I did lobby thorough the most progressive park and ride policy in the country. Car users must pay all of the operating costs of the lots and, unless prohibited by some other funding source, pay the amortized capital costs of the lot(s) as well. I was the leader in opposition to a recent staff attempt to gut that policy and succeeded by a 4 to 3 vote.
● Service Improvement. After years of effort, we have shelters. Shelters may not seem like a big thing, unless you have to wait in the rain for a bus. We have begun a Rapid Bus program. Our first line, the San Pablo Rapid, has been a stunning success with 65% more ridership than the former limited, a 20% ridership increase in the corridor and about 20% of riders coming from the private automobile. Our 1 Rapid, along our busiest corridors is doing very well. We have redesigned our buses in response to customer complaints. The test bus will be on the street next week and we expect a number of them here by November.
All of this progress has been overshadowed by our fiscal problems. When the District was established, it had a stable source of property tax funding. That was eliminated by Proposition 13 and we have become increasingly dependent on volatile sales taxes. Those taxes dropped drastically with the dot crash which forced us to cut service about 13%. Luckily (largely through the foresight of former director Williams) we had anticipated that we might gain or lose substantial funds and we have an adopted Service Deployment Policy. That policy insures that we have a fair and socially equitable system to increase or decrease service. The cuts are painful in a general sense, but as fair as possible given the fiscal hand we and our passengers have been dealt.
The situation may get much worse as the governor's proposed budget would take $1.3 Billion from California public transit + the damage to AC Transit would be about $19 million. That equals all of our weekend service or a $3.50 single ride fare. All the easy cuts, to the extent there were any, have been made. This is no time for an inexperienced board member.
Last, but not least, I practice what I preach. I have ridden AC, both transbay and local, since before I moved to the East Bay in 1975. About eight years ago, I put my 1966 Volvo up on blocks and go everywhere on public transit.
I would appreciate your vote for reelection as an at-large member of the AC Transit board this November. If you would like any further information or have any questions, please contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me on my campaign cell (510-499-0691).
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