President Obama nominated Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to replace Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx does not have a background in transportation – he was a practicing attorney before going into politics – but as mayor he has been instrumental in a number of important transportation projects.
Since he was elected mayor in 2009, Charlotte has invested in a new streetcar service, a new runway for the city’s international airport and an expanded light rail system, said Obama in his introduction Monday afternoon at the White House.
“He is one of the most effective mayors Charlotte has ever seen,” Obama said. “His experience will make him an outstanding transportation secretary.”
LaHood, who will step down when Foxx is confirmed, said the Charlotte mayor understands the role transportation plays in day-to-day life and in creating economic growth.
“Anthony Foxx has been on the front lines delivering transportation services to the public, boosting economic growth, and creating jobs,” LaHood said in his blog.
Foxx credited the Obama administration with being a good partner to Charlotte and other cities, and added: “There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.
Foxx must be confirmed by the Senate. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he will schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
“Our country faces daunting transportation challenges,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “We must make critical investments in our transportation network to remain economically competitive in the 21st century.
“Mayor Anthony Foxx has established himself as a strong transportation advocate and shown the ability to move transportation infrastructure projects in Charlotte. He can be a driving force in the federal effort to take advantage of transportation opportunities.”
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, extended his congratulations as well,
“I remain committed to building consensus about how to strengthen our infrastructure, promote economic growth, and make the Nation more competitive in the global marketplace,” Shuster said in a statement.
“Once he has been confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with Mayor Foxx to achieve these goals for our country.”
American Trucking Associations president and CEO Bill Graves also congratulated Foxx.
“As mayor of a large city, Mayor Foxx dealt with very similar challenges with regard to transportation issues that I did when I was governor (of Kansas) – chiefly responding to the demands of constituents and developing a multimodal transportation network,” Graves said in a statement.
“As someone who can appreciate how hard it can be to actually do that, I wish Mayor Foxx luck and I look forward to working with him to ensure that Americans have the first-rate, world-class transportation system they deserve.”
Graves also thanked LaHood for his service as DOT Secretary.
“We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but the work he’s done to highlight safety, particularly to bring attention to the issue of distracted driving, is laudable,” Graves said.
Foxx, 41, is considered a rising political star. Politico named him one of “50 to watch” after his successful bid to bring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte.
He was born and raised in Charlotte by his single mother and grandparents, who were present at the White House announcement ceremony. Obama noted that Foxx’s grandmother had just told him she had once worked in the Truman White House.
Foxx graduated from Davidson College, where he was the first African-American student body president, and from the New York University School of Law.
He worked as an appellate court clerk, as a staffer in the U.S. House and as a practicing attorney in Charlotte before moving full time into politics.
He was elected to the Charlotte City Council in 2005, serving two terms before being elected mayor.
President Obama nominated Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx (left) to be the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Foxx will replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (right). Photo courtesy of the U.S. DOT's Fast Lane blog.
By Oliver Patton, HDT magazine