Six potential new Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members came before the New York State Senate for approval Thursday, including Mayor Eric Adams’s first three picks to represent the city on the state transit panel.
Adams’s recommendations include Isabel Midori Valdivia Espino, Frankie Miranda, and Sherif Soliman. David Jones, CEO of the nonprofit Community Service Society and the fourth mayoral rep on the board by recommended former Mayor Bill de Blasio, will keep his seat.
“I am proud to put forward a group of MTA Board nominees who represent the diversity of our city and share my vision for a public transportation system that truly serves all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams in a statement May 26. “These three nominees bring impeccable professional credentials, invaluable life experiences, and genuine commitment to their neighbors”
The mayor gets to recommend four board members to represent the interests of New York City residents on the 23-person board, which meets monthly to vote on MTA construction and repair projects along with hikes for transit fares and bridge and tunnel tolls.
Since taking office, Adams kept his cards close to his chest, saying only that he wanted his picks to be routine public transit commuters, instead of car drivers.
Hizzoner had been considering John Samuelsen, the international president of the Transport Workers Union, who already has a non-voting seat on the board, the Daily News reported.
Valdivia is the chief operating officer of Coro New York Leadership Center and previously was the chief of staff to former MTA chairpersons and CEOs Pat Foye and Joe Lhota, and had roles in the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Miranda is the CEO of the Hispanic Federation, which bills itself as the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit organization, and he also worked as a press spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2000 and Fernando Ferrer’s mayoral campaign in 2001.
Soliman is the director for the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Planning and was former Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Finance Commissioner.
De Blasio also appointed Soliman to the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which will be tasked with recommending tolls and exemptions for the incoming congestion pricing charge for Manhattan’s business district.
All three were recommended by Adams and nominated by Hochul for final approval by the state lawmakers in Albany.
Hochul put forth Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Sorin as one of her board reps. She’s the second nominee the governor made for the board after tapping New York Building Congress chairperson Elizabeth Velez to fill one of two vacancies in January.
The governor effectively controls the MTA board, because she can propose the largest share of voting members, including the agency’s Chairperson and CEO, and she can nominate the recommended members from the New York City mayor and the county executives of the suburbs in the MTA service area on Long Island and north of the Five Boroughs.
Samuel Chu is poised to represent Suffolk County, while Blanca Lopez is up for approval to rep Westchester County. Chu is the CEO of Long Island firm Edgewise Energy and before that was the chief of staff of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Lopez works in Westchester’s local government as deputy commissioner of planning.
The governor also tapped Alicia Glen, de Blasio’s former deputy mayor for housing and economic development, for the role of commissioner of the Gateway Development Commission, which oversees the Gateway Program to update a 10-mile segment of rail between New York and New Jersey, including construction of a new tunnel below the Hudson River.
The state Senate’s Transportation Committee and its Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions voted to approve the nominations Thursday afternoon.