President Obama announced his nomination for Transportation Secretary today, calling Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx a "friend" and an "impressive leader."
"I know Anthony's experience will make him an outstanding Transportation Secretary. He's got the respect of his peers, mayors and governors all across the country. And as a consequence, I think that he's going to be extraordinarily effective," the president said a White House ceremony.
The rising Democratic star, who has served as mayor of Charlotte since 2009, has spearheaded several major infrastructure projects in the city and rose to prominence after bringing the Democratic National Convention to Charlotte last year.
Obama credited Foxx with successfully investing in infrastructure to boost job creation and revive Charlotte during the economic crisis. "The city has managed to turn things around. The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity. And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he'll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city's history," he said.
Foxx will be the first African American nominated to the president's cabinet this year, and if confirmed, he will be one of two African Americans, in addition to Attorney General Eric Holder, serving in the Cabinet. The president has been criticized recently for a lack of diversity in his second term appointments.
Foxx would replace current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is staying in the post until a new secretary is confirmed.
"Every American can thank Ray for his dedication to make our transportation system not just stronger, but also safer. When it comes to his focused attention on the dangers of distracted driving, for example, it's saving lives," Obama said of LaHood.
"On a personal note, Ray LaHood has been a good friend of mine for many years. Before he served in my Cabinet, we served together in Congress. He's a Republican; I'm a Democrat. These days, that sometimes keeps folks apart, but what always brought Ray and I together was a shared belief that those of us who serve in public service owe their allegiance not to party but to the people who elected them to represent them," he said.