"When Anthony became mayor in 2009, Charlotte, like the rest of the country, was going through a bruising economic crisis. But the city's managed to turn things around. The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity," Obama said in remarks delivered from the East Room of the White House. "And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he'll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city's history."
Foxx's nomination already has begun to stem some of the criticism Obama faced early on for not choosing an African-American for a key cabinet post this year. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus were among the most outspoken critics.
“The people you have chosen to appoint in this new term have hardly been reflective of this country’s diversity,” CBC chair Rep. Marcia Fudge wrote in a letter to Obama in March.
On Monday she praised the nomination and the ways Foxx "addressed the needs of an area that experienced tremendous growth within the past decade" as a city councilman and as mayor.
Foxx was elected mayor of Charlotte in 2009 and re-elected in 2011 with an overwhelming majority of the vote. He also continued to serve as deputy general counsel for DesignLine Corp., a Charlotte-based bus company. His national profile was raised when his city successfully hosted the Democratic National Convention last year.
Earlier this month, Foxx, who turns 42 on Tuesday, announced plans to step down at the end of the year to spend more time with his family, but there have been rumors for weeks that he would be tapped to replace outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood.
His transportation background is not extensive, but as mayor, he has initiated several major projects, including the Charlotte Streetcar Project, which is an electric tram service, and a third parallel runway at Charlotte/Douglass International Airport.
As Obama pointed out, Foxx will be the second member of his family to serve a president. His grandmother, who watched the announcement from her wheelchair, worked for the Truman administration.
In brief remarks, Foxx said "there's no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system," and called for the two parties to work together to strengthen the nation's infrastructure.
"I know well the opportunities and the challenges of maintaining and improving infrastructure and providing good transportation choices," he said. "And throughout my service in Charlotte, I have worked to use infrastructure to put Charlotte and, therefore, our country on the path of job growth today and tomorrow."
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(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)