May 23, 2024 - Politics

SANDAG interim chief Clementson resigns from scandal-plagued transportation agency

a trolley pulling out of the Santa Fe Depot

Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. Photo: Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Coleen Clementson, the interim CEO at the San Diego Association of Governments, submitted her resignation and will depart the agency before its new CEO takes over in June.

Why it matters: Clementson's departure reinforces the agency's leadership shift.

Catch up quick: She was a top executive under former CEO Hasan Ikhrata before taking over as interim chief in December, but will not return to her deputy CEO role.

  • Mario Orso, SANDAG's new CEO, begins on June 17, and Clementson's last day is June 14.

Friction point: Orso takes over an agency facing a federal investigation following the revelation that it improperly charged drivers on a South Bay toll road.

The bottom line: After Ikhrata – and Clementson — spent five years selling San Diego on a less highway-focused transportation plan, SANDAG is now in the hands of Orso, who spent three decades with Caltrans, the state's highway department.

  • Ikhrata's predecessor, Gary Gallegos, also came to SANDAG from Caltrans.

What we're watching: Voters in the fall will be asked whether to increase sales taxes countywide for freeway and transit projects.

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