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San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn elected chair of MTS

Acting Chair of the San Diego Municipal Transit System, Stephen Whitburn, tells reporters that the board is hiring outside counsel to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against former board president Nathan Fletcher, San Diego, April 6, 2023.<br/>
Matthew Bowler
Then-acting Chair of the San Diego Municipal Transit System, Stephen Whitburn, speaking to reporters, San Diego, April 6, 2023.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board of Directors elected San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn as its new chair on Thursday. Whitburn had been the acting board chair following former San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher resigning from the post.

Fletcher left after a lawsuit was filed late March against him by former MTS employee Grecia Figueroa. It alleges Fletcher sexually assaulted and harassed her. Also naming MTS in the lawsuit, Figueroa says she was unjustly fired on the day Fletcher announced his candidacy for state Senate. Fletcher denied Figueroa’s claims, instead saying it was a consensual affair.

“It is a great honor to lead our region’s public transit system. There are so many positive things happening for transit in San Diego," Whitburn said. "I appreciate the trust and support of my colleagues with this appointment. This Board is a dedicated group of public servants that understand the value transit brings to all our communities.”


El Cajon City Councilmember Steve Goble was appointed as vice chair, the position Whitburn held before being named acting board chair.

Mayor Todd Gloria congratulated Whitburn in a press release, saying the councilmember will bring strong leadership to the agency.

“I’m confident that as chair, Councilmember Whitburn will work tirelessly to tackle the issues MTS faces, which includes quickly resolving the current strike between Teamsters Local 683 and Transdev,” Gloria said.

Gloria referred to the work stoppage in MTS’ South Bay Division. The agency’s contractor, Transdev, and the union representing its workers, Teamsters Local 683, haven’t reached a contract agreement leading to the workers' strike. Thirty-three percent of its routes aren’t running.

The MTS Board of Directors is made up of 15 local elected officials — four from the city of San Diego, two from Chula Vista, and one each from the county of San Diego, and the cities of Poway, Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa, National City, Lemon Grove, Coronado, and Imperial Beach. 


“We look forward to working with Councilmember Whitburn as our new chair, and advancing our mission of providing safe and efficient transit service that San Diego residents depend on,” MTS Chief Executive Officer Sharon Cooney said in a statement. “Chair Whitburn has demonstrated an understanding and passion for transit, and he represents thousands of constituents who rely on it to get to jobs and educational opportunities in our region. We are fortunate to have a strong transit advocate taking this leadership position on our Board.”