Thursday, May 9, 2024
CEO's political aversion fatally undermines ambitious plans.

CEO’s political aversion fatally undermines ambitious plans.

The Role of the San Diego Association of Governments CEO

The recent announcement by Hasan Ikhrata that he would be stepping down as CEO of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) at the end of the year did not come as a surprise. Ikhrata has been running the region’s lead transportation planning agency since late 2018 and has achieved numerous accomplishments during his tenure.

Achievements and Contributions

Ikhrata’s notable achievements include successfully completing the construction of a long-planned trolley line connecting Old Town to La Jolla, even amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic. He also managed to secure funding for a much-needed project aimed at improving and preserving the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor. Furthermore, Ikhrata played a pivotal role in gaining momentum for the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project, which promises to boost the regional economy. Additionally, he was successful in securing $1.5 billion in federal and state grants for various initiatives.

Dysfunctional Board and Political Challenges

In an interview with two editorial writers, Ikhrata candidly admitted that his accomplishments were attained despite having a dysfunctional board. He emphasized that this dysfunctionality extended beyond party lines, affecting both Democrats and Republicans on the board. This reveals a crucial, but often overlooked, divide not only between political parties’ approaches to addressing climate change but also between pragmatic and deeply progressive liberals.

The Challenge of a Bold Rail Program

One of the notable challenges Ikhrata faced was his push for a bold $160 billion commuter rail program. While he had nominal support from a SANDAG board majority, the project faced significant hurdles. Questions regarding the project’s feasibility, including extensive costs and difficulties in securing land for track routes, remained unanswered. Similar issues plagued the state’s high-speed rail project, resulting in endless delays and diminishing public support.

Per-Mile Fees on Drivers

Ikhrata additionally advocated for per-mile fees on drivers as a means to discourage driving and compensate for dwindling fuel tax revenue caused by electric vehicle mandates. This idea drew applause from environmentalists but encountered opposition from high-profile Democrats like San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. However, initiatives such as the Youth Opportunity Passes, which provided unlimited free rides on public transport for individuals aged 18 and under, were met with near-universal support and significantly increased monthly transit usage among the young.

Future Visionary Leaders

While it is expected that the next SANDAG CEO will share similar goals to Ikhrata regarding the region’s transportation needs, the key lies in building political support to convert aspirations into reality. Visionary leaders must acknowledge and embrace the necessity of gaining support, rather than dismissing this crucial task. Failure to recognize this could potentially overshadow Ikhrata’s legacy as SANDAG CEO.


About Nick Dunn

Meet Nick Dunn, an exceptional author on our blog with a focus on news and politics. With an expertise in covering current affairs, international news, opinion and analysis, as well as politics and government, Nick delivers insightful and thought-provoking posts that are both informative and engaging. With his in-depth knowledge and sharp analysis, he keeps you informed and up-to-date on the latest news and developments around the world!

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