DOT Secretary Nominee Deflects Criticism Over Lack of Transportation Experience
Washington D.C. – On Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden officially announced his intention to nominate former mayor Pete Buttigieg to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) should he be sworn in on January 20, 2021.
On Tuesday, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported Mr. Biden intended to nominate the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, IN to the important post.
In an announcement on Wednesday, Mr. Biden called Buttigieg a “next generation leader.”
“You know we selected Pete for Transportation because the Department is at the intersection of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better,” Biden said. “Pete’s got a great perspective that solves problems and brings people together.”
.@PeteButtigieg has the perspective of a mayor that solves problems and brings people together.
He’s got the vision of a next-generation leader with the experience and temperament to help dig us out of this economic crisis. pic.twitter.com/zfuy2LCK6R
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 16, 2020
Biden briefly outlined a series of goals he has for the USDOT which included “getting to carbon neutral as a way to power vehicles,” and “modernizing infrastructure” to better “advance racial equality.”
Click HERE to read much more on Biden’s plans for the USDOT
For his part, Mayor Pete, as he is known, echoed his commitment to achieve these objectives.
“At its best, transportation makes the American Dream possible, getting people and goods where it needs to be directly and indirectly creating good paying jobs,” Buttigieg opined. “At its worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic, and environmental injustice, dividing or isolating neighborhoods, undermining governments basic role to empower everyone to thrive.”
Buttigieg Addresses Concerns About His Inexperience on Transportation Issues
As news of Buttigieg’s likely nomination broke on Tuesday, questions surrounding his lack of qualifications to lead such a massive bureaucracy quickly surfaced.
In response, Buttigieg said he has a “personal love of transportation” which he developed as a child and later strengthened during his college years.
Specifically, he mentioned that during his time at Harvard College he would travel back to his home in Indiana by Amtrak and referred to himself as a “train enthusiast.”
He also pointed to the fact he proposed to his husband at an airport.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic,” he quipped.
Further, he argued his work as a mayor has prepared him for such a significant governmental role.
“We reimagined how vehicles and people moved through the city unlocking new economic vibrancy in our urban core,” he commented. “We built up partnerships from a regional collaboration to improve rail service to a public-private partnership that put our city at the cutting edge of bicycle mobility.”
However, Mayor Pete drew heavy criticism by residents of South Bend during his tenure for his inability to patch potholes in a timely fashion.
In a report in March of 2018, the South Bend Tribune described the problem as the “worst in recent memory.”
It became so bad in fact that it earned Mayor Pete the nickname “Pothole Pete” by many South Bend residents.
“I faced a constant battle with that natural enemy of all mayors… the pothole,” Buttigieg acknowledged in his nomination acceptance speech.
However, today he seemed to divert responsibility for the pothole fixing failure.
Instead, he suggested the problem was, like many mayors, he faced challenges created by a lack of federal and state funding.
Buttigieg’s attempt to address his lack of transportation experience will likely not assuage many in the trucking community already expressing serious concerns.
The announcement of his likely nomination has so far drawn withering criticism among TNN readers and members who want to see a USDOT leader with actual trucking experience.
TNN will continue to follow new developments.
WATCH the full announcement below.
Mayor @PeteButtigieg is a barrier-breaking public servant with a track record of forward-thinking leadership. Tune in as I nominate him to be our next Secretary of Transportation. https://t.co/rhpetks9UW
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 16, 2020