President-elect Joe Biden nominated former mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, drawing hopeful optimism that if confirmed rural and urban interests can be heard under his watch.
Buttigieg served as the 32nd mayor of South Bend for eight years. He secured $200 million in private investment in downtown South Bend, sparking citywide job growth and facilitating innovative public-private partnerships to improve the city’s transportation. In addition to his service as mayor, Buttigieg was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, eventually earning the rank of Lieutenant.
“Given his background in the Midwest and, more recently, his extensive travels throughout Iowa and other rural states, I am confident Mayor Buttigieg understands that our nation’s transportation strategy must address the needs of both urban and rural America,” says Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
“If we hope to see the U.S. farmer remain the most competitive in the world, it will require sufficient investments in each link in the agricultural supply chain – rural roads and bridges, highways and interstates, freight railroads, the inland waterway system, and our ports,” Steenhoek adds.
Steenhoek adds, “Upon his confirmation, farmers look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg in promoting each of these essential modes of transportation.”
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear says, “Transportation is an issue that touches all Americans – urban, rural, coastal and in the heartland of our nation. Having served as a mayor, Pete Buttigieg has had an up close and personal look at how our infrastructure problems are impacting Americans, and how important it is to solve them.”
Chuck Baker, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, says Buttigieg’s background as mayor, his military service, and his experience as a presidential candidate have well-prepared him to understand the importance of freight transportation services and infrastructure.
“His reputation as a practical problem solver with a vision for the future is a great match for our industry, and we look forward to working with him and his team at the USDOT,” Baker says.
Baker adds, “Short lines are well positioned to address many of President-elect Biden and Buttigieg’s priorities – to grow the economy and to connect thousands of agricultural, energy, and manufacturing employers in rural and small town America to domestic and global markets in a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly way.”