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SANDAG taps longtime government, transportation official as executive director

A longtime Southern California transportation planner was named Sept. 14 as the new executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments.

Hasan Ikhrata has worked for the past decade as executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, an agency he joined in 1994.

He previously worked for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

SANDAG made its decision after a nationwide search and approved the terms of Ikhrata’s contract Sept. 14, according to the agency. SANDAG’s board of directors also will work on specific performance measures for Ikhrata before he starts on Dec. 3.

In his new job, Ikhrata will lead a SANDAG staff of 375 people and oversee a $1.3 billion annual budget.

Under the board-approved agreement, Ikhrata will enter into a three-year contract. His annual salary will be $414,149, matching what he earned at SCAG, according to SANDAG.

Agency Chairman Terry Sinnott called Ikhrata “a proven consensus builder” and a “heavy hitter” in the government sector.

“Hasan knows Southern California,” Sinnott said. “He has the respect and the connections at the state and federal level to bring in funds to help us build infrastructure.”

Ikhrata described his new job as “a new and interesting challenge that will provide a great opportunity.”

“My goal coming in will be to listen and learn,” he added. “I will need a deep knowledge of all the communities and stakeholders of the San Diego region if I am to do my job, which will be to help all of us build a shared vision for the future and then make that vision a reality.”

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Ikhrata “brings incredible expertise and a new perspective that SANDAG greatly needs.” Faulconer, a SANDAG board member, also sits on subcommittee that led the recruitment effort.

According to SANDAG, Ikhrata earned a master’s in civil and industrial engineering from UCLA and is a doctoral candidate in urban planning and transportation from the University of Southern California.

Ikhrata holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and industrial engineering from Zaporozhye University in the former Soviet Union.

The executive director reports directly to the board of directors composed of 21 elected officials from the region’s 18 cities and San Diego County government.

SANDAG began searching for a new director after former director Gary Gallegos resigned in August 2017. Gallegos, who had directed SANDAG since 2001, left office after the release of a report detailing SANDAG’s miscalculations of sales tax revenue from 2016’s Measure A, which voters rejected at the ballot box that November, and efforts to hide the agency’s knowledge of its error for months.

— City News Service