SANDAG Hires New Executive Director

A seasoned public planning and transportation expert has been chosen to lead the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

SANDAG’s 21-member board approved a new contract Friday for Hasan Ikhrata, who has served as Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) since 1994. The agreement calls for an annual base salary of $414,149 plus benefits. That’s $104,145 more than SANDAG’s last executive director was making, but remains consistent with Ikhrata’s current salary at SCAG.

Ikhrata, who also previously worked for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said he was enticed to join SANDAG because of the opportunities and challenges, not the salary.

“This region deserves a great vision to have a state-of-the-art, unmatched transportation system that the rest of the world will say ‘Look what San Diego did,” he said.

His contract was rejected by representatives for San Marcos and El Cajon, who wanted it to include specific benchmarks for success.

Ikhrata’s hiring comes at a critical time for the agency. SANDAG’s last director Gary Gallegos resigned last year following revelations that the agency misled voters about revenue projections for a proposed ballot initiative. The agency is also facing some financial difficulties.

Ikhrata will take over in December.