Anthony Foxx, currently Mayor of the City of Charlotte, NC, is expected by a wide range of sources to be tapped by President Obama’s administration today to be the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation, replacing Ray LaHood.
Mayor of Charlotte since December 2009, Foxx is a relative newcomer to politics, only getting a start in 2005 when elected to Charlotte’s city council as an “at-large” representative – serving two terms before becoming the city’s 48thand youngest mayor.
Foxx gained the attention of the Obama administration during his first term as mayor after a citywide bid by Charlotte – eventually successful – to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012, then serving as chairman of the city’s host committee for the event.
Transportation, however, has been an important plank during Foxx’s political tenure as he began his city council days chairing Charlotte’s transportation committee, as well as serving on the council’s economic development & planning committee, among others – returning streetcars to Charlotte for the first time in 50 years and breaking ground on an intermodal facility at the city’s airport.
Yet Foxx is also something of a transportation “realist” in terms of the contentious issue of transportation funding, recognizing in past speeches that less monetary help will be available at both the federal and state level in years to come.
“The role of federal and state help is changing,” Foxx explained during his annual State of the City address back in February. “Our federal government, overrun with debt and indecision, will play a less helpful role on issues such as housing and infrastructure. In Raleigh [seat of NC’s state government], I extend the same outstretched hand that has enabled us to accelerate the completion of I-485 and protect investments in high speed rail funds and reinvent our workforce development system.”
But Foxx is also a proponent of expanding mass transit systems as well, pointing to Charlotte’s trolley streetcar system as an example of the role he believes mass transit plays in helping spur urban economic growth.
“I remain convinced that transit is a game-changer for Charlotte. Transit is a game-changer,” he said. “Our efforts to jumpstart the streetcar [system] do not flow from recklessness; they arise out of our recognition that it could be twenty years or more before any new projects get built. Without projects in the ground, we will experience the same sucking sounds of sprawl that will drive investment and population away from Mecklenburg County and Charlotte.”