Brad Evans has a reputation as a prankster, so seeing his name recently on a candidate roster for elected office was surprising, given his fictitious run for mayor back in 2014.
But this time is different. Evans says this isn't a practical joke; the artist, graphic designer, architectural critic by way of his popular Facebook page Denver FUGLY and bike advocate best known for starting the Denver Cruiser Ride is now a first-time candidate for elected office. He's running to serve on the Regional Transportation District's board of directors as a District N representative, serving most of Jefferson County, including Morrison, Evergreen, Conifer and west Littleton.
The RTD board of directors comprises fifteen elected members who govern the transit district and vote on everything from salaries to services to routes and fares. Seven seats, including the one Evans is eyeing, are up for grabs in November, and boardmembers serve four-year terms.
The most transformational project that RTD has undertaken over the years has been its FasTracks commuter-rail expansion, which voters approved in 2004. But FasTracks has come under fire over the years. Residents of northern suburbs, such as Thornton, are still waiting for long-promised commuter rail lines to run through their areas, and the G Line to Wheat Ridge is two years late. And even when a commuter rail line opens, there's no promise that service won't eventually be reduced.
More than anything, Evans says, he's running to be a proponent for mass transit.
"We've had in the past, so far, so many [RTD] directors who have been anti-transit, and maybe it's time for RTD to have a group of people for transit. It goes back to libertarians and people like [former RTD boardmember and current president of the Independence Institute] Jon Caldara, who would much rather crash it than provide service," Evans says.
But first things first: Evans needs to qualify for the ballot. He admits that he hadn't thought about running for elected office until just last week — days before the deadline to petition onto the November ballot — when he learned that the RTD district in which he resides was up for grabs. He scurried to gather the minimum 250 voter signatures required to get on the ballot, then turned in his petition to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office on July 12, the deadline for candidate petitions. He's one of three candidates petitioning for the RTD District N race.
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"Wanting to serve on RTD, this wasn't my lifelong goal," Evans says. "But I've been a vocal critic of RTD.”
The Boulder native wants to be an advocate for change across the transit district's service area. His concerns include the G Line, first- and last-mile transit issues (i.e.,expanding mass transit accessibility for those who live far away from a bus or rail stop), RTD's bloated executive pay (his description), and low bus-driver salaries and bus-driver shortages.
The secretary of state has to validate the petition signatures before Evans can get on the ballot, a process that can take a few weeks. In the meantime, the self-proclaimed political "outsider" is on a listening tour of his district to hear opinions on RTD.
"[RTD] is a business, but it's a publicly funded business," he says. "We should be watching every dollar possible, but at the same time, if it's not serving the public who's paying for it, then why are we paying for it?"