Mayor Anthony Foxx addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last September. President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Foxx as his new transportation secretary, a White House official said Sunday. AP/J. Scott Applewhite
President Barack Obama will tap Charlotte, N.C., mayor Anthony Foxx as the new secretary of transportation on Monday, a White House official said Sunday, who asked not to be named because the announcement is not yet official.
The choice is seen as part of an effort to boost the number of minorities in high-level positions on his Cabinet.
The nomination of Foxx, who led last year’s Democratic National Convention, would make him the only African American selected for a Cabinet opening in Obama’s second term….
Federal officials cited his work breaking ground on a Charlotte streetcar project that would bring an electric tram service through the center of town as well as helping lead expansion of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and plans to extend the city’s light rail system north of the city to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The mayor of Charlotte would replace Ray LaHood, a Republican, who announced in January that he would leave the job once his successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
When LaHood announced his departure, it was thought that Georgia would lose an essential federal connection as it pursued hundreds of millions of dollars for the dredging of the Port of Savannah. LaHood and Gov. Nathan Deal served together in Congress.
The new path of influence: Foxx not only calls Obama friend, but is likewise close to Kasim Reed. The mayor of Atlanta paid a visit to Charlotte in February, to help the mayor of Charlotte over two hurdles – funding for a new Panthers football stadium, and a city streetcar system. The same streetcar system cited by the White House as a reason for Foxx’ nomination – and similar to the one being built in Atlanta.
“People who want to use the economy as a reason not to invest will be proven wrong,” Reed said. He added that “everywhere people have done streetcars, capital has followed.”
Reed, a Democrat, also talked about another controversy that Charlotte and Atlanta share: whether to contribute financially in building or renovating stadiums for their NFL teams.
In Atlanta, the Falcons want to build a $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. Reed said the city is considering spending more than $200 million in public money for the stadium, with the team spending $860 million.
The new stadium would replace the Georgia Dome, which opened in the early 1990s.
In Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers have proposed spending $250 million to renovate Bank of America Stadium, which opened in 1996. The city has been asked to contribute $125 million.
Reed said the city should support the Panthers financially.
“No mayor who has played the stadium game has won,” said Reed, who became Atlanta’s mayor in 2010.
Thursday’s retreat was the first time city officials have spoken in public about the Panthers deal. In a news conference, Foxx said he is concerned about losing the team to another city.
Updated at 2:30 p.m. Monday: Below is a line from Reed's statement of congratulations following the formal anouncement today. See if you can spot the subtext:
"I have no doubt that the U.S. Department of Transportation will benefit tremendously from his leadership and that it will continue to secure our nation’s economic future through vital infrastructure investments that create well-paying jobs and enhance our global competitiveness."