Aerial photo from SANDAG shows Mid-Coast Trolley construction.

San Diego Association of Governments Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata attended his first Board of Directors meeting Friday after being named to the position in September.

Ikhrata, the former executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, took his post on Dec. 3.

As the head of the agency, Ikhrata will have control of a $1.3 billion annual budget and report directly to the board.

“My first task will be to listen and to learn,” Ikhrata said. “My longer-term goal is to help create a vision for the San Diego region that includes the best transportation system in the world.”

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. Courtesy image.

The board approved the creation of a steering committee at Friday’s meeting that will help improve transit connectivity to the San Diego International Airport, according to SANDAG.

The Board of Directors searched nationwide for a new head of the agency after the resignation of longtime Executive Director Gary Gallegos in August 2017. Gallegos resigned amid reports that SANDAG knew of a miscalculation of sales tax revenue from Measure A in 2016 and attempted to hide the error for months.

Along with Ikhrata, the SANDAG executive structure will see a complete overhaul when the new year begins. Current SANDAG Vice Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus will take over board chair duties from Del Mar City Councilman Terry Sinnott, who plans to retire at the end of 2018. Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear will be promoted to vice chair, the agency announced last month.

“We are looking forward to working with Hasan, who has had many years of planning transportation systems for our neighbors to the north,” Vaus said. “This is a new era for the agency and the board. We’ve got a lot to look forward to and a lot on our plate. I’m confident that Hasan and our team will successfully tackle any challenges facing our region.”

–City News Service

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