Five candidates will be interviewed on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 for two board positions to represent Washtenaw County on a new southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA). The finalists are: (1) David Nacht, a Scio Township resident, local attorney and board member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; (2) Richard “Murph” Murphy, an Ypsilanti resident and programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance; (3) John Waterman, a Saline resident and founder of the nonprofit Programs to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC); (4) Liz Gerber, an Ann Arbor resident and professor at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy; and (5) Wendy Woods, current Ann Arbor planning commissioner and former Ann Arbor city councilmember.
Seventeen people had submitted applications by the Dec. 21 deadline. In an email sent to the media on Dec. 26, Conan Smith – chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners – indicated that another candidate, Lou Kasman, had also contended that he had submitted an application on time, though county staff could not find it. Even so, Kasman’s application was also reviewed, Smith said, but Kasman was not selected as a finalist.
Created by state legislation during the lame duck session earlier this month, the authority covers the city of Detroit and counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw, and is intended to coordinate regional public transportation initiatives. As county board chair, Smith – who also serves as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance – is empowered to make the appointments. A new chair will be elected at the county board’s Jan. 2 meeting. If the appointments aren’t made by then, it would fall to the next chair to make them. For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: “Regional Transit Authority Board: 17 Apply.”
Interviews and a public hearing – all open to the public – will be held at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center, Room A, 4135 Washtenaw Ave. The doors open at 8 a.m. with the first interview beginning at 8:45 a.m with Nacht, followed by Murphy (9:20 a.m.), Waterman (9:55 a.m.), Gerber (10:30 a.m.) and Woods (11:05 a.m.) Three of the five finalists – Nacht, Gerber and Woods – will be interviewed via Skype.
The selection committee includes three county commissioners: Smith, Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor, and Rolland Sizemore Jr. of Ypsilanti Township. Also on the committee are Michael Ford, CEO of Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; Bill Milliken Jr. of Milliken Realty Co. and son of former Gov. Bill Milliken; and Carolyn Grawi, director of advocacy and education at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.
Grawi and potentially Milliken will also be participating via Skype, according to Smith.