WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama has announced his nomination of Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, to be his new secretary of transportation.
Anthony Foxx became mayor of Charlotte in 2009, three years before the city hosted the Democratic Party national convention which formally nominated Obama for a second term.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Foxx would replace outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Illinois congressman, who was the second Republican in Obama's first term cabinet.
Foxx would become the first African-American nominee for Obama's second cabinet. He would join Attorney General Eric Holder, another African American who has served since Obama began his presidency in 2009.
The president's selection of Foxx goes some way to answer critics, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who faulted Obama for a lack of diversity in cabinet selections since his re-election.
Obama made no mention of this in remarks praising Foxx, who was Charlotte's youngest elected mayor and only the city's second African-American mayor.
The president said Foxx helped Charlotte recover from an economic downturn by investing in transportation infrastructure, which prepared him well to handle the nation's transportation issues.
"When Anthony became mayor in 2009, Charlotte like the rest of the country was going through a bruising economic crisis," said President Obama. "But 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 will tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of largest investments in transportation in the city's history."
Obama predicted Foxx would be "extraordinarily effective" saying much work remains to rebuild and modernize infrastructure to ensure the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy.
Foxx praised LaHood for his "no-nonsense approach" in heading the Department of Transportation, saying the job requires leaving politics aside.
"There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield, or rail system," said Foxx. "We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation's infrastructure."
LaHood credited Obama with raising gasoline efficiency standards for vehicles, and providing leadership and vision to improve high speed rail in America.
"What he said to America is, we know you want a different kind of transportation," said LaHood. "And [Abraham] Lincoln started the rail system in America, Obama has started high speed rail in America. What a great legacy."
If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx would take over a Transportation Department that like other federal agencies faces strains from spending cuts that went into effect earlier this year.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama is committed to having diversity in his cabinet and among his top advisers, but also the very best people to improve his ability to make the best decisions possible.