SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Cindy Chavez is originally from New Mexico, and grew up in the East Bay and Fremont.
Chavez came to San Jose at the age of 18 to attend San Jose State University to study Political Science. Her parents came to California because they felt there was less discrimination and more opportunities for young families.
Chavez is one of only two Latina women who have served as Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board Chair. This is her third term over the last 15 years in public office.
"I think that each of us... bring our own perspective, our life experiences, we bring a fresh lens, and I was a bus rider for many, many years. Part of the reason I was able to get to college was I took the bus ride from Fremont here, right to the big city," said Chavez. "Making sure that we all bring a perspective is why it's important to have so many different kinds of people in public service."
Chavez also talked about the extraordinary measures VTA has taken to assure customers it is safe to ride public transit. "VTA has put a lot of protocols in place, including keeping the buses clean, limiting the number of people who can be on a bus and having protective guards there for our drivers," Chavez said. "So we are trying our very best make sure that for every person who gets on a VTA bus or light rail, that they have the safest commute possible. And it also requires all of us to do our part and that means you can't ride VTA unless you're wearing a mask, and that's a reminder to all of us that we need to wear masks and stay socially distant, and that's VTA's mantra right now."
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One of the things we're really focused on is that our heaviest routes can make their times and that they're available to folks.
Chavez also took the opportunity to champion one of her major public platforms for both VTA and the County of Santa Clara: climate change. "Public transit is a great way to contribute to bringing down our greenhouse gases and staying out of our single occupancy vehicles."
For more information about VTA, watch the "Open for Business" series on ABC7 YouTube:
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For more on our interview by Kumasi Aaron, see the VTA blog by Stacey Hendler Ross.
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