Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a fantastic choice for transportation secretary.
In an administration led by the oldest man ever elected as president, Buttigieg would bring the energy of youth. He’ll turn 39 the day before Biden takes the oath of office.
He is also the first openly gay person ever nominated for such a position, a milestone he addressed at the event to announce his nomination.
Buttigieg recalled his own reaction as a 17-year-old when President Bill Clinton nominated James Hormel, an openly gay man, as ambassador to Luxembourg. In that era, a gay man could not even get a hearing in the Senate, and the nomination wound up being pushed through as a recess appointment.
“Two decades later, I can’t help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now, somebody who wonders whether and where they belong in the world, or even in their own family,” Buttigieg said. “And I’m thinking about the message that today’s announcement is sending to them.”
Buttigieg is imminently qualified for this new role.
A Rhodes Scholar, he is truly brilliant, and we’re confident he will bring his intellect to bear in addressing the nation’s transportation needs. He’s an outsider who can bring a new perspective to lingering issues.
As a presidential candidate, Buttigieg rolled out a $1 trillion plan aimed at rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and he was often critical of our current president for his failure to follow through on promises to make infrastructure a priority.
And contrary to the claims of critics, Buttigieg brought significant innovation to South Bend during his time at city hall. His office deployed sensors to detect potholes even before they erupted, and his “Smarter Streets” project was a pioneer of the “traffic calming”’ design measures now common on city streets nationwide.
Assuming he wins confirmation by the U.S. Senate, the former mayor will face some serious challenges in his new position. Many of the nation’s highways, bridges and airports are falling apart. America’s railway system is far from adequate and public transit agencies across the country are in crisis.
Biden, though, seems confident his former rival is up to the task.
“Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation,” Biden said.
The president-elect said the Department of Transportation would be at the center of some of his administration’s most ambitious plans to “build back better,” and he predicted Buttigieg would do his part “with focus, decency and a bold vision.”
Buttigieg, a native Hoosier, made his home state proud with his groundbreaking presidential campaign. We’re confident he’ll continue to do so as a member of Joe Biden’s cabinet.