WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday chose Mary Peters, a former federal highway administrator, to succeed Norman Mineta as secretary of transportation.
The president announced the nomination at a White House ceremony as Peters stood alongside him.
"She's going to make an outstanding secretary of transporation," Bush said, urging the Senate to rapidly approve her nomination.
"It is a job that requires vision and strong leadership," the president said. "Mary Peters is the right person for this job. She brings a lifetime of experience on transportation issues from both the private and the public sectors. "
Peters spent three years directing the Arizona Department of Transportation where she worked her way up through the ranks during a 16-year career there. Since November, Peters has been national director for transportation policy and consulting in the Phoenix office of Omaha-based architectural, engineering and consulting firm HDR Inc.
Peters, who was chief of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2005, fills a Cabinet seat left open when Mineta left the job in July after six years on the job. Bush wanted to announce his choice as the Senate returned from its August recess so the confirmation process could begin.
Mineta, who helped rebuild confidence in U.S. airports and flying after the Sept. 11 attacks, was the only Democrat in Bush's Cabinet. He played a vital leadership role in strengthening the security of seaports and airports.
There had been speculation for years that Mineta was on the verge of quitting, sometimes because of his health and sometimes because or rumors about a cabinet shake-up. Instead, Mineta became the longest-serving transportation secretary since the department was formed in 1967.
After the Sept. 11 hijackings, Mineta oversaw the hasty creation of the much-maligned Transportation Security Administration, which took over responsibility for aviation security from the airlines.