The Southern California Regional Rail Authority board of directors has elected Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority representative and Glendale council member and former mayor Ara Najarian as its next chair, it was announced Thursday.

The governing body of regional passenger rail service Metrolink unanimously elected Najarian during its Dec. 11 meeting. Najarian replaces outgoing chair Brian Humphrey, who represents the Ventura County Transportation Commission, effective Jan. 1.

“I am taking the gavel with great appreciation for Brian’s leadership over the past two years, during which he welcomed in our new CEO Stephanie Wiggins and ushered in a new generation of leadership for the agency,” said Chairman-Elect Najarian. “During Brian’s tenure, Metrolink saw the highest ridership levels in its history, as well as one of the most significant threats the transportation industry has seen in a generation: COVID-19. We thank him for helping secure Metrolink as an exemplary safety leader and essential service to the region during very uncertain times.”

San Bernardino County Transportation Authority representative and Highland Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon was elected first vice chair, while Orange County Transportation Authority representative and Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee was elected as second vice chair. All three officers will serve one-year terms, but may serve a two-year term if re-elected in 2021.

“It’s been an honor serving as Metrolink’s chair and helping provide a safe, efficient and reliable transportation service to Southern California,” Humphrey said. “I was proud to lead Metrolink through this period of massive disruption and respond with innovative strategies to help keep our region functioning safely. With Ara as chair, I am confident we will emerge from the pandemic as a smarter, better, essential service.”

First elected to the Glendale City Council in 2005, Najarian served as Glendale’s mayor for four terms. He first served as a member of the Metrolink board between 2007 and 2012 and was reappointed in 2013. Prior to his appointment as Metrolink board chair, Najarian served as vice chairman for two years. He is also the past chair of both the Metro board of directors and the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments.

He currently sits on the board of directors of the Hollywood Burbank Airport Authority. An attorney, Najarian’s civic leadership background also includes serving on the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees and the city of Glendale Transportation and Parking Commission.

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