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Former suburban Phoenix mayor to take over Valley Metro

PHOENIX — One-time candidate for Arizona governor Scott Smith has been named interim chief of Valley Metro.

The former Mesa mayor posted an announcement on Facebook.

Smith will take over Feb. 1 and said he could serve a few months or up to a year until a permanent chief executive was found.

The Phoenix-area bus and light-rail system has struggled of late, with a bus strike that halted 34 routes and an ongoing criminal investigation into the actions of former CEO Stephen Banta.

The strike between drivers and operating company Transdev ended after a week earlier this month.

Yet to be resolved is the situation around Banta. He resigned in November after a media report questioned expenses he filed.

The city of Phoenix ordered an audit of the public transportation service.

During Smith’s two terms running Mesa, he ushered in the construction of Cubs Park and brought five colleges to the city.

He resigned in spring of 2014 to run for governor on the GOP ticket. Smith lost out to Doug Ducey in the primary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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