Resignations, new chair amid shakeup on MARTA board

MARTA will begin the new year with a substantial shakeup of its appointed leadership.

Two MARTA board members representing Atlanta — Robert Ashe and Reginald Snyder — announced their resignations Thursday. A third board member, Clayton County representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam, also will step down.

Meanwhile, the board will have a new chair, Thomas Worthy. Worthy won a contested election Thursday against the current chair, Rita Scott, who represents DeKalb County.

MARTA board members serve at the will of their respective jurisdictions, and turnover is not unusual. But the resignations of three of the board’s 13 appointed members (it also has two ex-officio members) is unusual.

On Thursday, Ashe and Snyder said they had decided it was time for new leadership on the board.

Ashe joined the board in 2010, when MARTA’s finances were a shambles. Under several general managers, the agency has since shored up its budget and won the confidence of state and local leaders.

Its improved fortunes helped pave the way for successful transit expansion referendums in Clayton County in 2014 and Atlanta in 2016.

Ashe, the former board chair, choked back tears as he announced his resignation and thanked his colleagues.

“Over the past year or so, I have been pondering what’s next, and I’ve concluded it’s my time to yield the field,” he said. “And, so, with a heavy heart, but also real joy at all we’ve done together, today I am resigning so that MARTA can get a new, fresh set of arms and eyes to keep pushing forward because our work is not yet done.”

Snyder, who joined the board two years ago, said it was time for the board to “move to the next chapter.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens recently recommended former City Councilwoman Jennifer Ide and Jacob Tzegaegbe, a former senior transportation policy adviser to then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, for the MARTA board.

A spokesman said Dickens “appreciates Mr. Ashe and Mr. Snyder’s years of service and dedication to expanding transit in the region, and looks forward to working with the the new board to move vital projects forward — ensuring Atlanta is a connected city that is built for the future.”

Abdul-Salaam, who has been in poor health, did not attend Thursday’s meeting. She has served on the board since 2015, when Clayton County joined MARTA.

Meanwhile, the board elected Worthy to be chairman in 2023, replacing Scott.

Worthy was appointed to the board by Gov. Brian Kemp, and Scott expressed concern that he did not represent one of the jurisdictions MARTA serves. Scott said the agency would be best served if the board were chaired by a representative of one of its member jurisdictions.

Worthy said he would recommend the chair’s position rotate among board members in the future. He said he would recommend that Clayton County member Katie Powers assume the chair’s job in a year.

Worthy won the support of eight board members, while Scott received four votes. The board also named Powers vice chair, Al Pond as secretary and Roderick Frierson as treasurer.

Staff writer Wilborn Nobles contributed to this article.