Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced Friday, June 23 that he is resigning his post, effective Friday, July 7. Mineta, the only Democrat in President Bush’s Cabinet, said in his letter of resignation that it was time for him “to move on to other challenges.” Holding the position for more than five years, Mineta was the longest serving transportation secretary in the job’s 39 years of existence.
In his first four years as Secretary, the United States reached both the lowest vehicle fatality rate ever recorded and the lowest rail fatality level ever recorded. He also oversaw the safest three-year period in aviation history: In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was responsible for grounding civilian airplane traffic for the first time in the nation’s history, bringing thousands of flights to safe landings in a few hours. During his tenure, the Transportation Security Administration, an agency of more than 60,000 employees, was established in less than a year, and President Bush signed the SAFETEA-LU Act, the major reauthorization for a safe and expansive transportation system.
The 74-year-old Mineta’s career in transportation has lasted more than 40 years. A former California congressman, he also served as the Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton and in the private sector as vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp. In his resignation letter to President Bush, Mineta wrote, “While there remains more to be done — a job such as this is never truly completed — I can assure you that the Department of Transportation is well positioned