WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama tapped the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday to head his Department of Transportation.
If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx would replace Ray LaHood, who said in January he wouldn’t serve a second term. LaHood has said he will remain in his post until a successor is confirmed. The transportation secretary is responsible for overseeing the nation’s roads, airports and railways.
“I know Anthony’s experience will make him an outstanding transportation secretary,” Obama said at an announcement ceremony in the White House East Room, citing the mayor’s work on installing a light rail system in Charlotte and championing the construction of an additional runway at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
“He’s going to be extraordinary effective,” Obama said of his transportation nominee, who he urged Congress to confirm quickly.
“Our top priority as a nation right now is doing everything we can to grow our economy and create good jobs and rebuild opportunity for the middle class,” he said. “One of the best ways we can do that is to put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure.”
While Foxx, who turns 42 on Tuesday, has no specific experience heading a transportation company or agency, Obama’s nominee said his experience as mayor had well prepared him for the national post.
“I know well the opportunities and challenges of maintaining and improving infrastructure, and providing good transportation choices,” Foxx said, adding he was “humbled and honored” to assume the role.
“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 improve this nation’s infrastructure,” he continued.
LaHood, who attended Monday’s announcement ceremony, served as a GOP congressman before taking the transportation job in Obama’s Cabinet. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was a GOP senator before assuming his post.
Foxx is the first African-American Cabinet pick of Obama’s second term, and his nomination comes after criticism of the president for naming mostly white men to top posts earlier this year. Along with Hagel, Obama nominated John Kerry as secretary of state and Jack Lew as treasury secretary.
Elected in 2009, Foxx is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, a position that was cemented during last summer’s Democratic National Convention, which was held in Charlotte. He was the first Democratic mayor of the Queen City since 1987, but announced earlier this month he would not seek re-election.
North Carolina, which was long considered a reliably red state in presidential elections, went for Obama in 2008. Republican Mitt Romney narrowly won the state in 2012.