President Obama on Monday nominated Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to replace Ray LaHood as transportation secretary.
Here’s what you need to know about Foxx:
It’s a smart move politically for the White House. Not only does this give the president another minority in his Cabinet, but the move also boosts a rising star in the Democratic Party. Well-regarded in his state, Democratic strategists have said that Foxx, 41, could run for governor or the Senate in the coming years. He recently passed up an earlier opportunity to run for higher office when then-Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, decided not to seek reelection.
Foxx had already announced three weeks ago that he would not seek another mayoral bid, saying he wanted to spend more time with his two children. “I do not want to be a father who looks back and wishes I had spent more time with them,” he said in a statement.
This position could give Foxx further credentials for a possible run at higher office in an increasingly purple state. In 2008, the Tar Heel State voted for then-Sen. Obama, though it went red in 2012.
Since announcing a slew of white men for high-level Cabinet positions in the start of his second term—including Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel—the president has nominated several women and minorities after receiving criticism. The move, however, does leave the Cabinet without a high-profile Republican, like LaHood.
He’s been on the rise in North Carolina politics. Foxx was the first Democrat to get elected as the city’s mayor in 22 years. Raised by a single mother and his grandparents, he eventually went to Davidson College and became the first black student body president.
“They taught me to take pride in hard work, to take responsibility for my actions, and to understand that education could expand my mind and transform my life,” he said at the Democratic National Convention, which Charlotte hosted.
Following Davidson, he attended law school at New York University and practiced law before going into politics. In 2005, he was elected to the Charlotte City Council. Four years later, he ran for mayor and won, becoming the city’s youngest mayor and only second African-American to hold the seat.
He’s been noted for his urban-planning strategy. Since taking office nearly four years ago, Foxx has led an effort to add 13,000 new jobs to Charlotte—an accomplishment that was heavily touted when Democrats held their convention there last year. Although he doesn’t have a true transportation background, he has been in favor of several new transportation initiatives in the city, which include improving local highways, adding a runway at the airport, extending a rail line, and bringing streetcars back to the city.
Administration officials, quoted when word of his nomination broke, said Foxx was able to bring transportation advancements to a changing urban environment.