By Arya Hodjat | [email protected]
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Board of Directors elected former Alexandria City Councilor Paul Smedberg as its next chairman Thursday night.
He succeeds former chair Jack Evans, a Washington D.C. city councilor who resigned after the board’s ethics committee found him in violation of conflict-of-interest rules.
Smedberg was elected to Alexandria City Council in 2003 and served for five terms. He was the second openly gay elected official in the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to a resolution passed by the Virginia Senate.
He served as an alternate director of the WMATA board representing the city since 2016 and was elevated to principal director earlier this year. He has also served on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission since 2006. From 2014 to 2018, he was the NVTC’s chairman.
His campaign for reelection to city council in 2018 proved unsuccessful. The election fell shortly after a public records request revealed city officials knew the proposed Potomac Yard Metro Station may not have a southern entrance, months before informing the public.
City Manager Mark Jinks wrote in a statement that city officials “believed we were prohibited from informing the public of cost-saving design changes.”
“I was trying to be upfront and direct with everyone that asked, but the process unfortunately did tie our hands to a degree,” Smedberg told The Post in 2018. “No one that I know of — and not I — certainly didn’t purposely lie to anyone.”
Smedberg told DCist that among his top priorities were to increase Metro ridership, and win back public trust, as well as push for ethics reforms.
“We’re going to move forward in a positive way and turn the page,” he told DCist.