BART board President John McPartland is running against retired BART labor leader John Maher in a race to represent a portion of the transit district covering the Tri-Valley area and parts of Hayward, Castro Valley and Cherryland.

The two candidates in BART District 5 both support extending rail service to Livermore and they agree the district needs to work hard to safely maintain and operate the system while opening new extensions.

The candidates have differences, however, over Maher's proposal to open all BART station bathrooms to the public and to make BART train service free to all senior citizens.

McPartland said it would be a mistake to open bathrooms in underground stations because of the terrorism risk.

McPartland also said BART would have to weigh the benefit of free fares for seniors against the substantial loss of fare money to operate the system.

Each candidate asserts that his background and experience makes him better qualified to serve on the nine-member transit board.

Both men previously worked for BART and both live in Castro Valley.

McPartland, 68, is a former BART safety specialist, Oakland fire battalion chief and retired Army colonel.

Elected to the transit board in 2008, McPartland is going after his second term.

"I am the best candidate to bring BART to Livermore," McPartland said of the long-discussed rail extension in need of a large federal grant to be built. "I am tenacious and engaged. If everything aligns correctly, I would like to break ground within four years ... six years at the outside."


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Maher, 75, is a retired BART mechanic who spent many years in leadership positions with Service Employees Local 1021 and its predecessor unions. Local 1021 represents some 1,500 mechanics, clerical staff and administrative workers at the transit agency.

Maher started in BART in 1974 as a mechanic.

He said his extensive knowledge of BART trains and the agency's labor issues will be an asset in helping oversee the system. "I know the system from the ground up," he said.

McPartland said Maher would be beholden to the BART union.

Maher denies that, saying he will be objective. He added that he can be an asset in helping ensure both sides negotiate in good faith to reach new labor agreements to replace those set to expire in June 2014.

Maher said he wants to add more maintenance and cleaning crews to keep trains clean and safe.

McPartland said he supports more train cleaners, but added he wants to do more study before backing larger maintenance crews.

McPartland said he strongly favors measures to improve BART's defenses against earthquakes, terrorism, and criminal acts, including car burglaries in stations and assaults against BART employees.

SEIU Local 1020 endorsed McPartland for re-election because of his strong stance on safety, union officials said.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.

BART BOARD Candidates for district 5

District 5 includes Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, Sunol and parts of Hayward, Castro Valley and Cherryland.

John McPartland

Age: 68
Occupation: Retired BART safety specialist, former Oakland fire battalion chief and Army colonel; teaches firefighter courses at Chabot College
Civic involvement: Elected to BART board in 2008; current member of California Seismic Safety Commission and Alameda County Sheriff's Underwater Dive Team
Education: B.A. in public management, St. Mary's College; M.A. in public administration, Cal State East Bay


John Maher

Age: 75
Occupation: Retired BART mechanic; held leadership positions at Service Employees Union Local 1021 and other BART unions that preceded it
Civic Involvement: Served on Alameda County Grand Jury
Education: Graduated from high school in Ireland, attended Laney and Chabot community colleges