On Friday, President-elect Barack Obama appointed Ron Kirk, an African American and former Dallas mayor, as U.S. Trade Representative. Obama said he believes the 54-year-old Texas attorney is "a leader, negotiator and principled proponent of trade."
“He has seen the promise of trade, but also its pitfalls,” said Obama, “and he knows there is nothing inconsistent about standing up for free trade and standing up for American workers.”
Kirk, the son of 1960’s Civil Rights activists, is a partner at renowned Texas law firm Vinson and Elkins. In 1995, he became the first Black mayor of Dallas, an office he held for two terms before becoming Secretary of State of Texas. In 2001, he ran for the U.S. Senate but lost to Republican John Cornyn.
Kirk says he believes in “a values-driven agenda that stays true to our commitment to America's workers and environmental sustainability is not only consistent with a pro-trade agenda, but it's also necessary for its success," he said.
As mayor of Dallas, he helped resolved several heated racial disputes in the city and was key in bringing a $420 million sports arena to Dallas.
He has made statements in support of NAFTA.