Christina Rubke's nomination to fill Bruce Oka's vacated slot on the Municipal Transportation Agency Board may come as a surprise to the city's most ardent Muni-watchers. It should -- she's surprised, too.
In a press release announcing the San Francisco lawyer's nomination to the board, Mayor Ed Lee offered congratulatory quotes no human being would ever say out loud ("Her service on the SFMTA Board will have a lasting impact on our City's transit system to ensure it is safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible for all users") and emphasized Rubke's notable achievements in the fields of law, community service, and sailing. He didn't bring up her transportation background, however, because she doesn't have one.
"I don't have much of a background on Muni," she admits. "I am getting up to speed." Rubke says she did not lobby for this appointment, and suspects City Hall types she works alongside on Bar Association committees put her name in the hat without her knowing about it. "This was pretty much out of the blue," she says with a laugh.
Rubke is a wheelchair-user. She has had arthrogryposis since birth, and does not have use of her arms or legs; her wheelchair is chin-controlled. She is a frequent rider of the Muni Metro lines, which she says "make me independent."
She met last week with the mayor, whom she said did not ask a lot of policy-related questions. "He was really trying to get to know me as a person and how I handle being on boards and work with people. ... As of right now, I don't have strong positions on the inner workings of the MTA."
Rubke, in fact, has not yet attended an MTA board meeting. Her interaction with city government is limited to making public comments in favor of the America's Cup -- she is the commodore of the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors -- and submitting an appeal of her property tax assessment.
"I am not a transit nerd," she admits. "But I do hold it in high regard."