Advocate Resigns from California Transportation Commission
Note: This story has been updated to correct the number of vacancies on the CTC. With this resignation, there are two open seats, and two other terms about to expire.
Equity organizations were surprised and delighted when Governor Newsom appointed outspoken advocate Tamika Butler to the California Transportation Commission last September. It looked like there might finally be a commissioner on board who understood and could articulate the challenges of people living in poor and underserved communities.
But Butler has resigned after a short tenure.
It’s a huge disappointment to organizations and individuals who hoped that Butler’s outspoken nature would provide a much-needed counterbalance to business as usual at commission meetings.
For years, various organizations had worked, without much success, to increase the diversity of representatives on the commission. It has been dominated by real estate and development interests, which has hampered progress towards slowing the expansion of highways, and California’s transportation funding continues to accommodate driving while investments in other forms of transportation are not catching up. Advocates had hoped that Butler would help the commission focus on racial injustice, and bring the voices of those most affected by negative consequences of new transportation projects into the funding conversation.
Butler’s resignation leaves two–or four, depending how you count–potential open slots on the commission for Governor Newsom to fill. Two appointment terms–Commissioner Lucy Dunn and Paul Van Konynenburg expire soon, although there is no limit to how many terms a commissioner can serve and they could be reappointed. In addition, the Assembly-appointed seat is open. Tamika Butler’s shoes would be very hard to fill, but hopefully Newsom and Speaker Anthony Rendon will find people who can represent a wider range of concerns than those that have dominated the transportation funding conversation for the last fifty years.