Why I’m Running for BART Board

With five days left to Election Day on Nov. 6, I’ve been consistently asked, with varying degrees of worry or excitement, “How are you?”

This has been a wild four-month adventure. I never thought I’d run for office. The idea of it was scary, and now I know that the state of constant vulnerability you’re in can be paralyzing and more often than not, lonely.

But even in spite of that, my experience has been balanced out with so much more.

When I share my vision of BART with people, it’s often opened up conversations about our region’s transportation, the increasing unaffordability of San Francisco, the lack of housing, and the homelessness crisis that we see so visibly at BART stations. These are tough conversations about what kind of city San Francisco is and what kind of city and region we want to be. But these are also the exact kind of conversations I want to have, and more than anything, my time as a candidate has reminded me how much we need a fierce advocate on the BART Board to be independent, care deeply about public transit, and put people and our communities first.

Working at the SF Bicycle Coalition for the last five years has instilled in me a deep love of cities. I once said that if life is some version of learning how to navigate the self, then my bike is how I navigate my life in San Francisco. The bicycle has been the way I’ve understood and come to love our streets, our people and our communities.

Through the SF Bicycle Coalition, I’ve also learned the language of street infrastructure, transportation budgets, transit policy, and legislation because informed advocacy backed by people power is the most effective. When it comes to BART, I was proud to have served on the BART Bond Citizens Advisory Committee to make sure station access was a funding priority for the successful 2016 measure. Last year, I walked the halls of the California State Capitol to make sure our Bay Area elected officials knew the importance of funding bicycle and pedestrian projects as well as new BART cars as part of the successful Regional Measure 3, which won voter approval in June. And day in and day out, I guide our team of community organizers so that we win member-driven campaigns that bring real physical changes that make our streets better for biking.

I want to bring that experience to the BART Board, because Bay Area residents deserve a BART Director who will be present and accessible, and has a track record of getting things done.

At the end of the day, representation also matters. As a queer Asian woman and as an immigrant, I don’t see many people like me running for office. There aren’t often spaces where I feel heard or seen, and in part, I’m running for office to make that space real. So just like what the SF Bicycle Coalition teaches in our bicycle education classes, I’m ready to take the lane.

The SF Bicycle Coalition is proud to endorse Janice Li for BART Board. Vote for Janice on or before Election Day on Nov. 6 and learn more about her here.

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