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Gomez says she’ll step down from Cap Metro board

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 by Austin Monitor

On Tuesday the Travis County Commissioners Court discussed what role the county should have on the Capital Metro Board. Currently, Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez is the county’s representative on the transportation board, but her term ends with the new year. A new law allows the county to appoint a representative to the board who is not a commissioner.

 

Gomez said after 11 years of serving on the board she is ready to step down and “share the fun” with her colleagues. Deece Eckstein, head of intergovernmental affairs for the county, told commissioners one possibility to consider for the Cap Metro spot would be a CAMPO appointment. Of CAMPO’s three appointees, he said, one must be either a Travis County commissioner or an Austin City Council member.

 

Under a new law, those three CAMPO appointments bring the total number of Cap Metro board members to eight. Although several members have served long tenures, observers expect most of those to be gone come January, when the new board convenes.

 

However, it is likely that Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and Council Member Chris Riley will continue their service. Martinez has tried, without much success, to rid the agency of what he sees as an anti-labor bias, and Riley has only been on the board for a couple of months.

 

Nancy McDonald, representing the Chamber of Commerce’s Take on Traffic organization, told commissioners her group favors a citizen appointee for the county. “It throws a wider net in terms of the experience,” she said. McDonald also opined that the “spirit” of the law encourages financial experts and executive managers for the positions. In fact, the law requires that one appointee have at least 10 years’ experience as a financial or accounting professional and that a second have at least 10 years’ experience in an executive-level job.

 

Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt motioned to approve a generic non-commissioner to the slot, but Judge Sam Biscoe said he’d prefer to think things over for a week.

 

Gomez explained the benefits of having a government background on the board: “It can be helpful to have an elected official who knows about open meetings and knows why Travis County’s financial condition is so good and to take these policies to Cap Metro,” she told her colleagues. She also said it is important to have someone on the board who is “committed to alternative modes of transportation.” See Whispers for more about Gomez.

 

The county released a proposed timeline for the appointment but did not vote on any action. The proposed timeline would make applications due by November 25, with interviews proceeding through December.

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