PINOLE -- Former Pinole Mayor Maria Alegria is being endorsed in her run for the BART governing board by a fellow former council member who was recalled along with her in 2008.
"I think she's highly qualified," Stephen Tilton said in a voice-mail message he left with this newspaper Sunday.
Pinole voters recalled Alegria and Tilton in February 2008 in part over their role in a council majority vote the previous year not to renew the contract of City Manager Belinda Espinosa, who was trying to collect on delinquent city loans to a bar and restaurant owner who is a friend of the duo. The loans since have been repaid. Espinosa was rehired by the council in December 2008.
A third member of the 2007 anti-Espinosa majority, David Cole, initially was targeted by the recall campaign, until he resigned in August of that year to enlist in the U.S. Army.
Alegria fell short in a November 2008 bid to regain her seat, finishing a distant third among three candidates vying for two seats. Tilton, too, was unsuccessful in an effort to get back onto the council, finishing sixth and last in a November 2010 race for three seats.
Alegria is running for the BART District 7 seat, which represents most of West Contra Costa County as well as sections of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. Her opponents are incumbent Lynette Sweet of San Francisco, Oakland resident Margaret Gordon and West Contra Costa resident Zakhary Mallett.
In a phone conversation with this newspaper Monday, Tilton predicted that Alegria would make "a huge impact" at BART, citing her collaborative relationship with the local bus agency WestCAT, which includes Pinole in its route network.
"She's done a lot for Pinole," Tilton said, adding, "I think Maria has always been destined for larger venues than the Pinole City Council.
"I was really surprised," Tilton continued. "I didn't know Maria was running."
In a June 18 impromptu interview outside the San Pablo City Council chamber, Alegria told this newspaper she would be too busy in the fall working to re-elect President Barack Obama to run for office herself.
Alegria is a member of the Contra Costa Democratic Party Central Committee. She is executive director of Contra Costa Faith Works -- sometimes spelled Faithworks, FaithWorks or Faith Works! -- an organization that has advocated for a variety of social causes.
Alegria did not respond to an email Monday inquiring about her aspirations for BART should she win election in November.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlochner