2020 RTD Board Of Directors, District H: Doug Tisdale, Regan Byrd and Roger Edwards On The Issues

District H covers Highlands Ranch, Littleton and other southern suburbs. Incumbent Doug Tisdale is facing challengers Regan Byrd and Roger Edwards.

The candidates appear here by incumbent first, then alphabetical by surname.

What's your elevator pitch for why voters should choose you?

Tisdale - As your current RTD District H Director, and two-term RTD Board Chair, I am committed to continuing communication, collaboration and cooperation, bringing you safe, clean, reliable, courteous, accessible and cost-effective transportation services throughout the region. I am Your Transit Voice with 20 years' experience in mass transit and public transportation.

Byrd - I have been a routine user of RTD for over 15 years, and have relied on this system for transportation to work, home, gatherings, grocery stores, the doctor's office, etc. I have seen RTD cut itself into oblivion over the past decade and fail to take its obligation as a critical service seriously. Transit is the circulatory system of a community; it gets people and resources where they need to go. As an equity consultant with an academic background in public policy and community organizing, I understand how to work with taxpayers, riders and RTD staff to move RTD forward.

Edwards - In a crisis your need experience and qualifications. I am the only candidate with a career in transportation and logistics, trained in modern methods of management such as Six Sigma and continuous quality improvement. It matters who you vote for.

How would you define success for RTD?

Tisdale - The mission of RTD is moving people. Our vision is to do that by providing our riders with transportation that is safe, clean, reliable, courteous, accessible and cost-effective throughout the region. Our prior notion of success has been reframed in the past nine months. Through the course of the pandemic, ridership has been down by as much as 60%, while sales tax revenues plummeted. Pandemic service reductions are now in place, cutting service by 40%. Today, success for RTD is defined by securing additional much-needed federal funds to shore up our finances for 2021, restoring services as funds become available and as ridership demand increases, and by communicating to the public that our vehicles are cleaned nightly to the highest health standards and are safe to ride.

Byrd - I define success for RTD in terms of the communities it is serving. I think RTD is successful when its infrastructure, operations, and mission is effectively serving the people of RTD districts, as measured by operators, riders, tax-payers, and other stakeholders.

Edwards - When the organization is in crisis, it's hard to have a vision of success. The best chance of success is to recognize, RTD's mission has changed due to circumstances beyond RTD's control. Establish a new mission tied to resources funded by taxpayers.

What should RTD prioritize as it tries to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic?

Tisdale - Given the current environment, riders need to have genuine confidence in their safety and security while riding our system. We must not only do the cleaning necessary to ensure a virus-free ride, we must provide clear and consistent messaging to the public so they will have confidence and security when they are on our vehicles and in our stations. That is one factor that will help restore ridership. Another critical priority is to manage our finances in the most fiscally sound manner possible, reducing our overhead and expenses so that they align with our limited resources. At the same time, we must prioritize our continuing efforts to secure another round of emergency COVID-relief funding from Congress to address our decreased revenues, allowing us to restore staff and service cuts made as a result of the pandemic.

Byrd - In light of decreased revenue, RTD needs to consider increasing revenue by making RTD once again an affordable, effective transit option for a wide range of incomes and transportation preferences, thus potentially increasing ridership. RTD should also increase revenue through the avenue it already uses for income: sales/use tax. RTD currently levies a 1% sales tax in the counties it serves, and even a small increase could have stabilizing effects on RTD’s budget. RTD should also consider working creatively with state elected officials regarding earned income opportunities, like charging for parking at RTD Park N Rides.

Edwards - Rebuilding will require more than cosmetic tinkering around the margins. Fifty years of failures and misallocation of resources has brought RTD to the point of collapse. RTD must choose a mission statement that is realistic and sustainable.

What is your personal experience and expertise in transit?

Tisdale - I have 20 years of personal direct experience in mass transit and public transportation, which no other candidate can equal or even begin to approach. In addition to being the incumbent District H Director, I was the Chair of the RTD Board for two terms. I serve on the Board of Directors of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), as well as on the APTA Executive Committee. I chair the APTA Transit Board Members Legislative Committee. I was an officer of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) and served on the DRCOG Executive Committee, where transportation was our core mission. I was the Mayor of Cherry Hills Village and on the Executive Committee of the Metro Mayors Caucus, regularly offering positions on important transportation issues. I have personal relationships with the heads of the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration. My two decades of public service are in public transportation, which is nothing like trucking. Please go to www.TisdaleRTD.com to learn much more. Remember that TisdaleRTD is all one word because nothing separates Tisdale from RTD.

Byrd - I am the only candidate running in District H who is an active RTD user. I have expertise in how RTD functions and operates, coming from over 15 years of use as a rider. This kind of expertise is woefully missing from the current board of directors. I also have 13 years of professional experience in organizational operations and am the founder and principal consultant of my own equity consulting business. I have the unique skillset needed to address structural issues at RTD from an equity and rider-focused lens.

Edwards - I have a career in transportation and logistics. As the corporate logistics manager for a large manufacturing company, I was responsible for managing a $150 million budget, servicing 24 locations across the U.S. I have negotiated with the national railroads, truckload carriers, LTL carriers, ocean freight and movements of industrial quantities of high-value metals.

How much should RTD weigh potential climate impacts in its decision-making?

Tisdale - RTD has always been committed to preserving and improving the environment by utilizing electric vehicles to the greatest extent feasible. Our trains are electric-powered. Our Free Mall Shuttle is an all-electric fleet. At one point we had the largest electric bus fleet in the USA (a couple of agencies are now catching up to us), and we are contracting to buy more electric buses. As battery technology improves and utility pricing adapts, we will be increasing our electric fleet, continuing to address climate impacts.

Byrd - RTD should weigh climate impacts very seriously, in order to support the state of CO and the US in achieving climate goals.

Edwards - Only to the extent is defined in a new mission statement.

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