First Asian mayor of a major U.S. city, longest serving Dept. of Transportation, Civil Servant Norman Y. Mineta

18 08 2008 Mr. Norman Mineta, Mr. Safety. He is a Democratic U.S. politician who is also the longest serving Secretary in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation, becoming the 14th Secretary of Transportation on January 25, 2001.

Norman was also the first Asian-American Cabinet member during the Clinton administration. In December 2004, Norman accepted President Bush’s invitation to continue his service in the Cabinet during the President’s second term until July 6, 2006.

As Secretary of Transportation, Norman oversaw an agency with almost 60,000 employees and a $61.6 billion budget. Created in 1967, the U.S. Department of Transportation brought under one umbrella air, maritime and surface transportation missions.

Norman has achieved:

  • The lowest vehicle fatality rate ever recorded
  • The highest safety belt usage rate ever recorded
  • The lowest rail fatality level ever recorded
  • The safest three-year period in aviation history

Norman was instrumental in persuading every state to set a blood alcohol rate at .08 percent, an alcohol level that has proved to be effective in preventing automobile crashes and improving safety.

Norman also oversaw the Coast Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including:

  • Developing the Sea Marshal Program
  • Maritime Safety and Security Teams
  • Expanding the number and mission of Coast Guard Port Security Units.

So what’s Norman’s background?

Norman and his family were among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced from their homes and into internment camps during World War II. Still, he joined the Army in 1953 and served as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.

This former San Jose mayor was the first Asian Pacific American mayor of a major U.S. city. As mayor, he favored greater control of transportation decisions by local government, a position he later championed in ISTEA.

In December 2006, Norman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On February 4, 2008, the day before the closely contested California Democratic Primary, Norman endorsed Barack Obama.

Congratulations to our civil servant hero: Norman Y. Mineta





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