Bexar County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Akeem Brown, the chief operating officer of an Eastside business development group, to the VIA Metropolitan Transit board of trustees.
The appointment of Brown, of San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE), follows two other recent additions to the 11-member board by county commissioners. Marina Alderete Gavito, an innovation business development director at USAA and former Tech Bloc executive director, joined in February, and Jordana Decamps Mathews, CEO of The Mathews Consulting Group and the County’s former director of economic development, joined in April.
Each of the County’s recent appointees are under the age of 40, including Brown, who is 26. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said commissioners sought to add younger and more innovative perspectives to the transit board as the City and County aim to bring a plan for a new mass transit system to San Antonio through VIA and the new nonprofit ConnectSA.
“We’re trying to bring in younger people with a different view of how we can change public transportation,” Wolff said. “All we’ve done here is run buses.”
Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced at the beginning of May that the plan for a new mass transit system would not feature light rail or other rail proposals. Brown, who is originally from Brooklyn, New York, told reporters after the meeting that he agreed with the decision to forgo rail.
“When we start talking about workforce development or we start talking about education and where we want to see our city in the next 300 years, we have to think about the vehicle that gets them there,” Brown told commissioners.
However, Brown also said his present concern focused less on the potential vehicles for a transit system and more on seeking to ensure that the system develops around communities.
“I really want to engage the community a whole lot more around this,” Brown said.
Brown replaces Rebecca Cedillo on the board. A new chair for the VIA board, who is selected by board members after a recommendation by Nirenberg and Wolff, has not yet been named. The City of San Antonio recently appointed three new members to the board. The next VIA board meeting will be on May 22.