BART Director Bob Franklin announced he’s running for Oakland City Council in November – a decision forcing him not to defend his BART seat in the same fall election.
Frankin said two terms on the BART board has prepared him for city office. BART in the past two years has been on the hot seat over police shootings and the cutoff of cell phone service to thwart one of many protests planned against the agency.
“I am ready for a bigger stage,” Franklin said in a phone interview Monday after tweeting his announcement earlier in the day. “I want to make Oakland a safer and more welcoming place.”
Franklin will run in North Oakland for a council seat that Jane Brunner is vacating to run for city attorney.
Franklin, the transit board president during 2011, said he prides himself on bringing a calm and consistent approach to building consensus.
“When I started in politics, I think I had a thin skin. Now I’m unfazed,” he said. “I think I’m prepared for difficult decisions.”
On the BART board, he has pushed for late night train service, easier to clean seats, and more agency transparency with the public. Franklin and other board members eventually decided that instead of proposing to run trains past midnight, it would be better to offer late night bus service between stations. BART is trying to work out details of that proposal.
Franklin defended BART’s decision last year to cut off cell phone service in underground stations for a few hours to thwart a protest that police said was aimed at disrupting train service.
But Franklin later helped bring about a new policy that barred cell phone cutoffs in underground stations except under “extraordinary” circumstances threatening safety, service or property.
“If you look at the protests, BART initially wasn’t clear on not allowing protests on the station platforms,” he said. “Then we clamped down, and the protests stopped.”
Likewise, he said, the city of Oakland should have been more consistent early on in defining where dissent was and wasn’t allowed by Occupy Oakland protesters. “You have to be clear.”
Franklin, 47 was a BART employee in finance and planning for seven years before his election in 2004 to the transit board.
Before coming to BART, Franklin worked as a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and on an organic vegetable farm. He also worked for his father’s office supply business.