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Special District

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit DistrictCandidate for Director, At-Large

Photo of H.E. Christian "Chris" Peeples

H.E. Christian "Chris" Peeples

AC Transit District Director, At-large
355,115 votes (61.4%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Help AC Transit Survive The Pandemic
  • Service To Youth, Seniors And The Economically Vulnerable
  • Cleaning The Air



Profession:At-Large Director, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit
At-Large Director, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (1987–current)
Board Member, Western Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee — Appointed position (2015–current)
Of-Counsel, Law Offices of Alfred L. Rinaldo (1980–2010)
Owner, Law Offices of H. E. Christian Peeples (1978–2010)
General Counsel, United Democratic Campaign, Alameda County North — Appointed position (1984–1998)
Commissioner, Oakland Public Ethics Commission — Appointed position (1995–1997)
Member, Oakland Charter Revision Commission — Appointed position (1994–1996)
Legislative Director, Councilmember Mary Moore, City of Oakland (1985–1989)


TRB (Transportation Research Board, part of the National Academies), UC Berk. & Davis ITS and Verious Certificates in Continuing Education in Transportation, Transportation Policy, Planning, Funding and Operations (current)
CEB & various Certificates in Continuing Education in Law, Law, particularly business litigation (current)
UC Hastings College of the Law JD, All Bar Subjects, Concentration in Labor Law (1978)
Crown College, University of California, Santa Cruz BA, Politics Major (1970)
Riordan High School, San Francisco High School Diploma, General Education (1966)


     I come about my love for public transit naturally. I have always believed that people should live in dense and diverse cities. That requires public transit. I grew up in San Francisco in the ‘50s and ‘60s and it had adequate public transit. My mother was French and I would visit my maternal grandparents in Paris. Paris has real public transit – the most dense metro system in the world with trains every 90 seconds; buses every 4 minutes.

     I grew up in San Francisco and attended Notra Dame des Victoirs, a French-American Catholic school (where I was the only protestant).     

     My parents were divorced when I was quite young and I was raised by my mother, a first generation feminist and chemist. I got involved in my first political campaign, Jack Kennedy’s run for president, when I was in elementary school.

     I went to Riordan high school in San Francisco (again, as one of few protestants). Even in elementary school, I was active in the early civil rights movement. That continued in high school and broadened into strong support for Cesar Chavez’s then relatively new farm worker movement.

     Through my Presbyterian church I became active in the antiwar movement shortly after I started high school and stayed in that movement through beginning of law school and the end of the Viet Nam war in 1975.

     I went to Crown College at the University of California Santa Cruz the first year it opened. I considered doing a special major in urban studies but decided again instead to major in Politics. It was basically a major in political theory, studying everyone from the pre-Aristotelian Greek irrationalists through Hobbs & Locke to modern political philosophers like Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, Jack Schaar and Sheldon Wolin (Jerry Brown’s favorite professor at Cal.). My primary professor was Peter Euben, who had studied under Wolin and Schaar.  I was extremely active in the antiwar movement, serving on the strike committees in the springs of 1969 and 1970.  In 1970 I served on the UC wide strike committee. I was also on work-study my entire time at UCSC

     I worked my way through college with a teamster union blue-collar job (Brewers, Malsters and Yeast Workers, Local 893) during the summers and continued that job for about five years after college, while being very active in progressive politics in San Francisco. I took about a year off to wander around Europe on a Eurail pass. I served on the Board of the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association for about 15 years.

     I went to Hastings Law school, took all the labor law classes I could and worked for the Educational Employment Relations board at the recommendation of my labor law professor, Joseph Grodin, who later became a California Supreme Court justice. I served on the Board of the Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation for about 10 years after I graduated

     I tried to get a job in labor law, but the only ones that were available were with management side firms and I refused to work for such a firm. I spent most of my 33 year career practicing complex business litigation for money and doing political in some environmental work pro bono. For 16 years I was the general counsel of the united Alameda Democratic Campaign, Alameda County North. I was a good lawyer, but very bad at being paid for my work.

     I am very active in local community issues, serving on the Board of my local neighborhood group, being active in campaigns every election season, serving on the Board of Operation Sentinel, the Oakland fair housing agency, the Center For the Study of Race, Crime and Social Policy of Cornell University, two Charter Revision Commissions, the Oakland Ethics Commission and as the first administrative assistant to Councilmember Mary Moore.

     In 1997 I was appointed to fill out the term of my friend John Woodbury as an At-Large Director of AC Transit. I have been elected and reelected to that position six times. My fellow Board members have elected me as president 5 times and I have chaired every committee on the Board. I have been the lead director on AC’s zero emission bus work and our environmental justice in transportation work. I have helped guide AC through three recessions, including the “Great Recession” of 2008 – 2010. Useful for these times.

     I have chaired or co-chared the last 4 AC Transit parcel taxes, each of which passed with more than a 2/3rds vote.

     I have worked on every “self help” county transportation sales tax in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties for the past 30 years. I worked on the first Alameda County transportation sales tax (1986’s Measure “B”) and helped get 11% of that tax for AC Transit. 2014’s Measure BB which allowed AC Transit to do a substantial increase in service.

     In Contra Costa County I represented all four bus transit agencies on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority in the drafting of Measure “X” and worked with environmental, labor and social j ustice advocates to get as much for bus transit as we could. Measure “X” failed.  I worked with the same coalition on March 2020’s Measure “J”’s follow up. It was much better for bus transit that Measure “X.” I worked on that campaign mostly in West County, where “J” passed by more than 2/3rds. Unfortunately it failed in the rest of the County.

     For the last 20 years I have participated in the prestigious TRB (the Transportation Research Board) Conference and am a "friend" of its Alternative Fuels, Environmental Justice in Transportation and Public Involvement Committees. I also attend, and have been a speaker at, other national and international transportation conferences. I have served as a bridge between the academic community and AC Transit (primarily thorough the TRB (the Transportation Research Board) and ITS (Institute for Transportation Studies) at UC Berkeley and UC Davis). 



Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Sierra Club
  • Alameda & Contra Costa Democratic Central Committees
  • Alameda and Contra Costa Labor Councils

Organizations (3)

  • League of Conservation Voters
  • East Bay Times
  • The Green Party

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

     This is my political philosophy about how things actually work as an AC Transit Director. If you have read my biography above, you will see that my undergraduate major was in political theory, so I am capable of going on at some length about abstract political philosophy. I can also go on at some length about a grand transit vision if money was on object. See the discussion above about Paris where the subway runs every 90 seconds and the bus runes every 4 minutes.

     Being an effective leader means being able to deal respectfully and well with AC Transit staff, electeds and staff of other jurisdictions, the various interest groups and the many involved individuals in any given situation. It requires technical knowledge (while recognizing that the staff will always have more technical knowledge), a political sense of the needs and wants of the other involved parties and a good knowledge of the geography involved. It helps if one has prior personal relationships with the parties and there is mutual trust.

     It also requires an understanding of the limitations of the situation. For example, in most of the AC Transit District is built out – there are only so many feet between building faces and that span must consider serving pedestrians, bicyclists, parked cars, moving cars, buses, bus boarding and alighting, vegetation, signage, etc. In some parts of the District some of those uses are completely ignored – there are parts of the District where there are no sidewalks; in most parts of the District there are no bike lanes; unfortunately in many parts of the District there is an assumption that there must be on-street parking. All of those realities must be faced and dealt with. Here is one example.

     Bancroft Way running down the South side of the UC Berkeley campus is a very complicated street. It is one way running East to West. Among AC Transit, Berkeley Parking and Traffic and Lawrence Berkeley Labs there is a bus running down Bancroft about every 70 seconds. Telegraph Avenue is a major street that is one way North bound, so when Telegraph terminates at Bancroft, all the vehicle traffic must turn left onto Bancroft. Bancroft and Telegraph is also the main entrance to the campus at Sproul plaza, so there are many people (mostly students) crossing at that intersection. The streets in the South side of the Campus do not work very well

     Recently, I was the lead director on the redesign of Bancroft Way with the bus lanes on the North side and a bike lane on the South side. That effort was lead by Steve Newhouse, one of AC’s planners, but I was part of talking with the East Bay Bicycle Collation, lead by their advocacy director, Dave Campbell (who has learned how bikes can work with buses), the local merchants, the Telegraph Avenue Merchants Association, Berkeley Parking and Traffic and the UC Berkeley traffic folks to reach agreement. I was at every one of the lobbing visits to the Berkeley mayor (who has endorsed me) and councilmembers. It took over a year and probebly over a hundred meetings, but at least the Bancroft Way part got done. That proposal is much more extensive than just Bancroft, but at least the Bancroft part is done.

     I am an At-Large Director and thus normally defer to the Ward director for activities within the Ward. In the case of UC Berkeley, the Ward 2 director (a University of Illinois alum in EE) decided that given my long relationship with the University of California, it made sense for me to be the lead on UC Berkeley matters. Also, I am now retired and devote full time to my AC Transit work and am available for day-time meetings, whereas the Ward 2 director is still practicing law full time.

     There is a similar story about work I did in Fremont trying to help seniors cross Mission Boulevard to get to the Sikh Gurdwara (Temple). The bicycle folks were not involved, but because Mission Boulevard is a State Highway, Caltrans was, so not only did we have to involve the local electeds, but we also had to work with the state assembly person and senator. The local electdeds were needed to deal with the surrounding neighborhood which had a number of tensions with the Gurdwara; some of them legitimate having to do with parking for the very well attended services at the Gurdwara; some of them not legitimate having to do with openly expressed racism. With many meetings over several years and joint funding from Fremont, Alameda County, Caltrans, and AC Transit we were able to solve the problem by installing a very expensive set of traffic lights at Mission Boulevard and Gurdwara. (I was he lead because the Ward 5 Director was ill.)

     Another examples of my work was in Contra Costa County on their “self help” sales tax. That involved local and county electeds, the Contra Costa Transit Authority (their sales tax agency), again, Dave Campbell and the bicycle folks, environmental and open space folks, AC transit Planning and governmental and community affairs folks and many meetings over the course of four years. We were able to get substantial funding for bus transit in West County in the March 2020 Measure “J.” All the collation other than AC Transit staff worked very hard on the campaign and Measure “J” got over the required 2/3rds vote in West County. Unfortunately it did not in the rest of Contra Costa County. I am sure it will come up again.


Position Papers

Fare Free Transit


     Fare free transit is a good idea, the issue is how to pay for that and still have the funding for robust transit service.

     I am all for fare free public transit, the question is how to pay for it. I spent 25 years trying to get the State and Federal gas tax at least adjusted for inflation. We succeed in California, only to be faced with a very well funded Proposition 6, which took the combined efforts of environmental groups and the deep pockets of the "sand and gravel boys" to defeat by only 5%. I was a spokesperson for that campaign and our pollsters told us not to mention the transit funding, but to empathize filling pot holes.

     Despite everyone in Washington talking about "infrastructure," no one is willing to touch adjusting the Federal gas tax for inflation. I have lobbied in Washington for that during the last 4 reauthorizations of the Surface Transportation Bill. Five years ago I had a long meeting with Senator Boxer on that subject and got nowhere. Perhaps with a Biden/Harris administration and a bunch of new Democratic senators we can get somewhere in the next reauthorization.

     Paris, France has talked about making transit fare free.  Paris has $7.00/gallon gasoline, but still has a substantial "head tax" to pay for the operation of the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (Autonomous Parisian Transportation Administration).) In the US where the orange haired idiot is talking about eliminating the payroll tax which supports Social Security, the most popular government program in the US, trying to get some kind of "head tax" would be difficult. Paris also has a socialist mayor and is one of the richest cities in the world.

     LA, which has started to talk about it, has 3 1/2 cent sales taxes devoted entirely to transit. I helped get the last 1/2 cent tax ("BB") passed in Alameda County. I worked very hard on the last two attempts in Contra Costa County (2016's "X" and March 2020's "J"), but unfortunately, neither passed. There was enough money, particularly in "J," for significant service increases, but not enough to have good service _and_ go fare free.

     As many if you you know, I have always advocated a complete reform of our tax and tax expenditure program (that is why this time I supported Warren rather than Bernie, her plan was more detailed), but there are lots of calls on that money, not the least of which is single payer health care.

     My concern about the discussion of fare free transit is the idea that the transit agencies should pay for it. Several irresponsible candidates are urging that in this cycle, including one incumbent.  By statute AC can raise fares, propose parcel taxes (and get them passed by 2/3rds (I co-chaired the last one (2016 Measure C1) which passed by 81%) (not my favorite form of property tax, but it is all we are allowed) or cut service. I would love to find another source, but see the prior paragraph.

     It would also take a major legislative effort. While our farebox is only about 16%, many of out other sources of revenue, like STA and TDA depend on maintaining a specified "farebox ratio." That only applies to operating funds, so it discriminates against bus agencies, which spend a greater proportion of their budget on operations (mostly employees) as opposed to rail and ferry agencies which spend more on capital, but we have learned to live with that. The attitude in Sacramento is that if people are not willing to pay for it they don't care about it.

     AC Transit is going to participate in MTC's low income discount program, which is silly because 70% of our riders would qualify, but MTC is going to do all the administrative work certifying folks and is going to fund it. My concern is that they are going to pull out after a year or two and people are going to expect us to continue it, which will mean massive service cuts.

Importance Of Working With Local Jurisdictions


     The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (“AC Transit”) is a special district established under state law (Pub. Util. Code secs. 24501 et. sec.). The streets on which it operates are controlled by the underlying 13 cities, 8 unincorporated areas, 2 counties and CalTrans (for example, parts of International Boulevard, San Pablo Avenue and a number of other major streets are state highways). The sidewalks and the “street furniture” are also controlled by the underlying jurisdictions. It is thus very important for AC Transit and it’s Directors to have good relations with the elected officials in the underlying jurisdictions.


     The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (“AC Transit”) is a special district established under state law (Pub. Util. Code secs. 24501 et. sec.). The streets on which it operates are controlled by the underlying 13 cities, 8 unincorporated areas, 2 counties and CalTrans (for example, parts of International Boulevard, San Pablo Avenue and a number of other major streets are state highways). The sidewalks and the “street furniture” are also controlled by the underlying jurisdictions. It is thus very important for AC Transit and it’s Directors to have good relations with the elected officials in the underlying jurisdictions.

Here are a list of local elected officials who have endorsed Chris Peeples:


Elected Officials

Senator Nancy Skinner (9th SD)

Senator Bob Wieckowski (10th SD)

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, 18th AD

Assemblymember Dion Aroner, 14th AD (Ret.)

Senator Loni Hancock, 9th SD (Ret.) (Assemblymember 14th AD, Ret.)


Alameda Supervisor Keith Carson, District 5

Alameda Supervisor Nate Miley, District 4

Aloameda Supervisor Richard Valle, District 2


Alameda Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sheila Jordan (Retired)

Alameda County School Board Member Gay Plair Cobb (Retired)


Contra Costa Supervisor John Goia, District 1


City of Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

City of Alameda Vice Mayor, John Knox White


Albany Mayor Nick Pilch

Albany Mayor Robert Lieber (Ret.)

Albany Vice-Mayor Peggy McQuaid

Albany Transportation Commissioner Preston Jordan


Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (Ret.) (and Assemblymember 14th AD (Ret.))

Berkeley Councilmember Kate Harrison

Berkeley Councilmember Lori Droste

Berkeley City Auditor Anna Rabkin (Ret.)

Berkeley Council Candidate and Transportation Committee Member Terry Taplin

Igor Tregub, Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner; Immediate Past Chair, Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board; Immediate Past Chair, Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission; AC Transit Parcel Tax Oversight Advisory Committee


El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman

El Cerrito Councilmember Janet Abelson

El Cerrito Mayor Pro Tem Paul Fadelli

El Cerrito Counclmember Gabriel (Gabe) Quinto (Dual)


Fremont Mayor Lily Mei

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison (Ret.)

Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison (Ret.)

Fremont Councilmember Raj Salwan


Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday

Hayward Councilmember Kevin Dowling (Ret.)

Hayward Councilmember Sara Lamnin

Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall 

Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas

Hayward Councilamember Francisco Zermeno


Newark Mayor Alan Nagy

Newark Vice Mayor Luis Freitas


Richmond Mayor Tom Butt


Oakland Mayor Elihu M. Harris (Ret. and Assemblymember 13th AD, Ret. and Peralta Community College District Chancellor Ret.)

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo (District 5)

Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb (District 1)

Oakland Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan

Oakland Councilmember Pat Kernighan, District 2 (Ret.)

Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid, District 7

Oakland Councilmember Sheng Thao, District 4


Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby


Oakland School Board Member Shanthi Gonzales, District 6

Oakland School Board Member Robert Spencer, District 2 (Ret.)


Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno


San Leandro Councilmember Corina Lopez


San Pablo Mayor Arturo Cruz

San Pablo Councilmember Rita Xavier


Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci

Union City Mayor Mark Green (Retired)


AC Transit Board Member Jeff Davis, Ward 5 (Retired)

AC Transit Board Member Rocky Fernendez, Ward 4 (Retired)

AC Transit Board Member Elsa Ortez, Ward 3

AC Transit Board Member Diane Shaw (Ward 5)

AC Transit Board Member Joe Wallace, (Ward 1)

AC Transit Board Member Mark Williams (Ward 4)

AC Transit Board Member Matt Williams, At-Large (Ret.)

AC Transit Board Member John Woodbery, At-Large (Ret.)


BART Board Member Bob Franklin, District 3 (Ret.)

BART Board Member Tom Radulovich, District 9 (Ret.)

BART Board Member Robert Rayburn, District 4

BART Board Member Rebecca Saltzman, District 3

BART Board Member Sherman Lewis, District 4 (Ret.) (and many other hats)


EBMUD Director Andy Katz, Ward 4

EBMUD Director Doug Linney, Ward 5


East Bay Parks Director Elizabeth Echols (and Elected Member Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, 145h AD)


Peralta Community College District Trustee Alona Clifton (Ret.)

Peralta Community College District Trustee Nicky González Yuen

Peralta Community College District Trustee Abel Guillen (Ret.)

Peralta Community College District Trustee Karen Weinstein (and Elected Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, 15h AD)


Michael Barnett, Elected Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and Executive Board, California Democratic Party

Joel Freid, California Democratic Party Central Committee

Kathy Neal, Elected Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee

Frank D. Russo, Chair, Alameda County Democratic Party (Ret.)


Stege Sanitary District Director Al Miller





The Sierra Club

League of Conservation Voters of The East Bay


Alameda Labor Council

Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County and Contra Costa Building Trades

Teamsters Joint Council 7 and Local 70

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 192 (AC Transit Operators and Mechanics)

AFSCME Council 57 and Local 3916 (AC Transit Professionals and Para-Professionals) (Dual)


Alameda Democratic Central Committee

Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee

The Green Party of Alameda County

Oakland Chamber of Commerce


Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club

Albany Democratic Club

Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus

Berkeley Citizens Action

Berkeley Democratic Club

Drake Talk Oakland

East Bay Animal PAC

Edie and Janet’s November 2020 Voter Guide

Frustrated Socialists Voter Guide

John George Democratic Club

Hayward Democratic Club

How Pete's Voting 2020!

Oakland East Bay Democratic Club

Our Revolution, East Bay

Space Cat Voter Guide

Tri-Cities Democratic Forum

Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club



East Bay Times


What Others Say About Chris Peeples


These are evaluations of Chris Peeples from diferent ends of the political spectrum -- The Green Party of Alameda County and the East Bay Times newaspaper.  They are as printed in their respective locations except for the removel of any reference to Director Peeples' opponents in accordance with League of Woman Voters policy.

Green Party Write Up A.C. Transit, At-LargeChris Peeples

        There are two at-large representatives on the AC Transit Board  of  Directors. They  cover  the  entire  district,  which spans  from  Richmond  to  Fremont.  This  is  in  addition  to five directors who represent geographical wards. This year's election covers only one of the at-large positions.

          Incumbent Chris Peeples has served on the AC Transit board for the past twenty-two years. He has been elected five times as board president. Peeples is among the most respected and highly regarded transit board members in the Bay Area,  acting  somewhat  as  a  “dean”  for  younger  and less experienced transit leaders. He may well be the most thorough, fair, and committed transit board member across the Bay Area.

        Peeples  is  also  respected  by  organized  labor  and  by the  disabled  community,  because  he  honestly  listens  to, considers, and acts upon their concerns. He has not owned a  car  since  he  joined  the AC  Transit  board  two  decades ago, and recently he has been using a wheelchair when he rides both fixed-route transit and ADA paratransit services, such as East Bay Paratransit that is sponsored jointly by AC Transit and BART.

        Peeples keeps current and gains innovative knowledge in new industry developments through his participation with the Transportation Research Board (a unit of the National Academies  of  Sciences,  Engineering,  and  Medicine)  and Institutes  for Transportation  Studies  at  UC-Berkeley  and UC-Davis. He has been closely following current research on bus ventilation methods and standards that can be maxi-mized to address virus control.

        He  has  been  a  key  supporter  of AC  Transit’s  zero-emissions pilot programs, which has resulted in AC Transit becoming the national industry leader in hydrogen fuel cell-driven battery/electric propulsion technology and usage. He was the only one of eight candidates for AC board positions in this election who gave facts, industry experiences, and sound rationale for AC Transit to continue in this and other potential directions for pollution-free bus service. Peeples has  also  amassed  an  astounding  array  of  endorsements, including over fifty from elected officials, in addition to those of labor, political, and conservation organizations.

[Discussion of other candidates.]

        Vote for Chis Peeples for at-large representative on the AC Transit board.



East Bay Times, 16 September 2020


Editorial: Keep experienced AC Transit leaders to handle COVID crisis 


AC Transit, the East Bay’s dominant bus system, faces an era of difficult choices as the coronavirus pandemic continues to drag down the economy and erode the transit district’s revenues.

At a time like this, the district needs elected officials who understand and can soberly and realistically confront the financial and operational challenges ahead. That’s why voters should reelect incumbents Joe Wallace in Ward 1, Greg Harper in Ward 2 and Chris Peeples for the at-large seat.

In normal times, the district provides transportation in the East Bay and to San Francisco. During the pandemic, most of the transbay service has been suspended, but the district’s local routes continue to be critical for getting essential workers to and from their jobs.


At-large: Peeples

A member of the board since 1997, Peeples has mastered the details of district finances and operations and provides a measured approach to them. He smartly balances the critical need for the bus service and the fiscal realities the district faces.

His challengers are [  ]. Neither come close to Peeples thoughtful approach to, and deep understanding of, district issues.


Videos (1)

— October 11, 2020 Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville League of Woman Voters

This is a forum put on by the Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville League of Woman Voters on the AC Transit At-Large Race recorded on 8 October 2020.

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