Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Campaign Poster

Last week I was taking some photos of my office for Alain de Botton's office photo contest - he has just written a book about work called: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and I noticed my campaign poster sitting on the couch (we unpacked it and put it there about a year ago). The poster is from 1992 when I ran for election to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Directors. I received over 30,000 votes, but unfortunately the incumbent received over 60,000. However, I think I had the best campaign slogan: "It takes an engineer to run a railroad."

The campaign was very interesting for me on many levels. I learned the techniques of politics. I learned a lot about what people want from their public transport system. (You might be amazed to learn how many people mentioned broken escalators as a problem - I remember that every time I see a non-functioning escalator today.) Finally, I almost learned to ask people for money, but not quite. In short, I learned a lot of things that they don't teach you in graduate school!

One of my campaign goals was to make the BART Board a non-elected position, filled by people elected to a higher office (i.e. city councilpersons or county supervisors). I say this because, while democracy is great, I think that the people managing public transport systems should have a broader perspective than just transportation. They should be involved with land use decision-making and other aspects of local government.

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