Mar 14, 2023 - News

Bibb appoints RTA riders to RTA board

A painted plywood cutout of a city bus, with protesters holding it, representing riders.

Members of Clevelanders for Public Transit protest on Public Square in 2018. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Mayor Justin Bibb has appointed two new members to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) board of trustees.

Driving the news: Calley Mersmann, the city of Cleveland's senior strategist on transportation and mobility, and Jeffrey Sleasman, a local startup founder and member of the grassroots organization Clevelanders for Public Transit, will begin three-year terms at the end of the month, pending City Council approval.

Why it matters: On the campaign trail in 2021, Bibb pledged to nominate board members who'd be more responsive to and reflective of the daily experiences of riders.

  • Both Mersmann and Sleasman are active transit users.

Details: The RTA board is composed of 10 members, who are appointed by the mayor of Cleveland (4), the Cuyahoga County executive (3), and the regional mayors and city managers association (3).

  • Clevelanders for Public Transit has been advocating for an increased rider presence for years.

Of note: Bibb was an RTA board member from 2018-21, appointed by former county executive Armond Budish.

The intrigue: One expiring board seat belongs to Valarie McCall, an influential aide to former Mayor Frank Jackson, who has served on the RTA board since 2006.

What they're saying: "I am confident that Calley and Jeffrey will continue to be valuable partners in their new roles, furthering the vision of providing equitable, accessible and efficient transit for our residents and riders," Bibb said in a statement.

What's next: Though the appointments are contingent on City Council approval, there aren't likely to be many objections.

  • Kerry McCormack, chair of council's transportation committee, tweeted that Mersmann and Sleasman are "excellent choices."
  • "They will be a huge value-add to the board," he said.

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