Anthony Foxx Confirmed: What Having a Mayor in Control of U.S. Transportation Could Mean

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, now confirmed as the nation's transportation secretary, could bring a unique mindset to Washington.
by | June 27, 2013
President Barack Obama announces that he will nominate Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx to succeed Ray LaHood as the next Transportation Secretary. (Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Senate today confirmed Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next transportation secretary, making him the first sitting mayor in decades to get the job.

Foxx, whose confirmation wasn't controversial and passed on a 100-0 vote, is the first sitting mayor since Portland's Neil Goldshmidt -- tapped by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 -- to take the helm of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

It's also very rare for a sitting mayor to get any cabinet post. Previous mayors who joined the cabinet include former Transportation Secretary Federico Peña (a Denver mayor) Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros (a San Antonio mayor) and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (a Dallas mayor). But none of them were in the mayor's seat when they were actually nominated.

Foxx, who's led the Queen City since 2009, has had experience dealing with transportation issues touching several modes. Charlotte is building a new street car line, extending its light rail system, recently expanded its airport, and coordinated with the state on big highway improvements. As a city council member, he chaired the council's transportation committee.

Transportation experts say Foxx's experience leading a major city could be a unique asset in Washington. The only other former mayor in Obama's cabinet is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987.

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