Mayor Pete for U.S. transportation secretary

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On Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden made official his nomination of Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to head the Department of Transportation. (Video from announcement.)

Some of the top associations advocating on transportation policy were quick with statements of support. On this episode, a conversation with an official at one of those organizations. Lloyd Brown, director of communications at the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, talks about their support and what a Buttigieg nomination means.

Brown talks about the administration’s promised focus on safety, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable funding for all infrastructure. Also discussed, how Buttigieg can balance an emphasis on safety and Vision Zero, Complete Streets and carbon reduction strategies, with a need for massive recovery in the airline and transit industries because of the pandemic.

Will having a dynamic and gifted communicator at the helm raise his profile and the administration’s priorities? A Washington Post story had this to say: "The choice of Buttigieg, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination and has an ardent following among some members of the party, will bring a dash of star power to what is normally a staid, if important, department."

Echoing the sentiments about the traditionally low profile of the transportation secretary, one observer, acknowledging that “no politically ambitious little kid dreams of growing up to be the transportation secretary,” explains why Buttigieg is different.
On Dec. 15, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after President-elect Biden nominated Mayor Pete Buttigieg for Secretary of Transportation:

“This is great news for our families, our businesses, and our nation’s economy. Every American deserves to drive to work and drop their kids at school safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield. Mayor Buttigieg has shown a deep commitment to getting things done for Americans everywhere, and I know he will work around the clock to fix and protect our nation’s infrastructure. President-Elect Biden has proven once again that he is committed to building an administration that represents the great diversity of our nation, with more women, more people of color, and more members of the LGBTQ+ community at the table. I look forward to working closely with Mayor Buttigieg and the entire Biden Administration to fix the damn roads and protect Michiganders from shelling out hundreds of dollars a year on car repairs. Let’s get to work.”

It was notable that the nominees to lead the Transportation and Energy departments were named the same day. Choosing former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signals how important the focus on alternative fuels will be as top automakers shift to building more electric vehicles and transportation agencies develop ways to support charging needs.

Podcast photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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