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March 16, 2012 > Mary V. King

Mary V. King

Former Alameda County Supervisor steered Agency through financial crisis/labor disputes

Submitted By Clarence Johnson

Mary V. King retired from AC Transit on February 29, 2012 having shepherded the bus agency through arguably its toughest financial times.

King was recruited to AC Transit in 2004 to become the Assistant General Manager for Communications and External Affairs. Five years later she was appointed to be the Interim General Manager as the District struggled to stay afloat through labor strife, reduced state and federal funding and severe service cuts.

"In her capacity as Interim General Manager, Mary V. King directed the day-to-day operations of the District with exceptional leadership and business acumen, exercising financial adroitness during a time of extreme crisis by masterfully reducing District expenses while sustaining vital bus services,'' the agency's Board of Director said in resolution praising her tenure.

King came to AC Transit as an accomplished politician and public policy strategist. In 1988, she became the first African American woman to be elected an Alameda County Supervisor. She was re-elected twice and served as Board President for two years. During her tenure, she authored many policies with lasting regional impact.

Prior to being elected to public office, King led the drive for a successful county tax initiative campaign (Measure B) that created new sources of funding for public transit and other transportation projects and made Alameda County one of the first "self help" counties in the State. Upon leaving office in 2001, Ms. King became a private consultant specializing in government affairs, regional housing, land-use and transportation issues.

"Mary left her profitable private consulting business... and we threw her into the crucible when we were in a deep financial crisis.'' said AC Transit Board President Elsa Ortiz. "She cut administrative staff and eliminated or cut executive perks. She put together an effectively run capital investment project to address severe maintenance issues. She snatched the $17M from MTC for support of services and fostered a partnership with the FTA that resulted in more grants and greater efficiencies."

"Most importantly," Ortiz said, "she brought in a balanced two-year budget while minimizing service cuts which would have caused pain and suffering to the residents who rely upon us to provide transportation services. This was not easy and we were lucky to have had her with us."

Indeed, as a county supervisor, King worked to improve economic conditions and social services for lower income residents, promoting health and education and youth violence prevention programs. The Mary V. King Health Education Center is named in her honor as part of the Eastmont Wellness Center in Oakland.

She chaired several community-based and regional committees, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Bay Bridge Design Task Force. She was Chief of Staff to California State Legislator, Bill Lockyer; Chief of Staff to Oakland Mayor, Lionel J. Wilson; and later an assistant to Oakland City Manager, Henry Gardner.

Among other honors, Mary has been given the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials; the "Allen E. Broussard Memorial Award for Outstanding Humanitarianism" by the Alameda County Bar Association; the "George Moscone Memorial Award" by the American Society of Public Administration; and was named the "Legislator of the Year" in 1992 by the Association of Retarded Citizens.

"I won't say it was always a pleasure but it has been a privilege to serve the residents of this District, in particularly those many riders who must rely on public transportation for survival," said King, who leaves AC Transit to return to her private consulting business.

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