Poll: Who Should Be the Next U.S. Transportation Secretary?

Ryan Holeywell over at Governing Magazine has put together a pretty comprehensive list of possible contenders for the top job at U.S. DOT, if Ray LaHood makes good on his word and splits for the private sector. It’s unclear when he’s leaving, or if he even really meant to say he was definitely leaving, but odds are there will be a vacancy over there pretty soon.

So, we’re accepting applications. Generous benefits package, all federal holidays off, metro-accessible office, Starbucks downstairs. You get your name in Streetsblog. What more could you want?

Cast your vote before midnight Sunday night and we’ll report back on the official Streetsblog choice for the next top dog. Oh, and since there are so many superstars to choose from on this list, go ahead and pick up to three.

Who's your pick to be the next U.S. Transportation Secretary?

  • Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC's Transportation Commissioner: Have you been to New York lately? Well have you? Case closed. (33%, 108 Votes)
  • L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: It would have taken anyone else 30 years to get L.A.'s transit system to where this man will take it in 10 -- and he's taken his formula national (23%, 73 Votes)
  • Gabe Klein, head of Chicago DOT: He's revolutionizing Chicago with bike lanes and pedestrian safety like he did in DC (22%, 72 Votes)
  • Don't go, Ray! (19%, 61 Votes)
  • Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar: What a different world it would be if his transportation bill had passed in 2009 (17%, 55 Votes)
  • U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer: So "bike-partisan" he speaks on the floor of Congress with his pant cuff tucked into his sock, also has a plan to cure the U.S. addiction to oil and supports transit (15%, 48 Votes)
  • FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff: Wouldn't hurt to bring a transit man in to run the whole show -- especially one who rides a bike (8%, 26 Votes)
  • U.S. Rep Steve LaTourette: He's quitting Congress because the GOP went too far right for a moderate like him -- sort of like Ray LaHood... (6%, 20 Votes)
  • Brookings Institution VP Bruce Katz: He founded the Metropolitan Policy Program to curb sprawl, promote equity, and support mixed-use development (5%, 16 Votes)
  • Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell: He's out there pushing for infrastructure investment even when no one's listening (5%, 15 Votes)
  • Other: There are lots of other worthy folks on Ryan's list that deserve your votes. Leave write-in candidates' names in the comments. (2%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 323

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  • I think Gabe, JSK, and Villaraigosa should stay put and keep working hard there. If Gabe leaves, that puts Chicago in a lurch. 

  • Ew. I can’t decide. Lots of good people here!

  • Tanya

    @stevevance:disqus JSK will likely leave with Bloomberg next year, and Villaraigosa is term-limited too, end of next year. Your point is well taken for Gabe.

  • Streetsman

    Charles Komanoff for an “ain’t never gonna happen” write-in

  • Kongou

    If you’ve seen Ed Rendell on TV lately, he’s probably been talking transportation.  It’s pretty clear he wants the job.

  • grego

    I don’t want Ray to go, but if he does, I want Villaraigosa!  Especially since it gives him a broader range of experience for the inevitable Antonio V. Gavin gubernatorial race.

  • Jim

    David Gunn. Anyone who was fired by Bush has to be in the running.

  • I would lean towards Oberstar because he’s been more involved at the National level and might be seen as less polarizing than JSK (which is WACK) but…

    Getting JSK or Villaraigosa involved at the Cabinet level means raising their National profile, which is a very good thing.

    But I’d rather Villaraigosa succeed Jerry Brown in Sacramento.

    I have been overjoyed with LaHood, but it I think it would be good to use the slot to raise someone else to prominence.

  • Anonymous

    I think they put someone strictly technical, who doesn’t “champion” any specific mode and is not recognized as any activist. There has been enough bricking and politicizing of technical decisions DOT must take. So maybe some transportation engineer from some big-name university without any record of getting into campaigns or “rallying behind” whatever political movement would be a good pick. But it is not going to happen.

  • Guest

    Tom Radulovich.

  • Miles Bader

    I like Villaraigosa, but I agree with grego that maybe he could have more effect by moving up the political chain in California.  He’s a real politician and that’s a skill not to be wasted.

    I’ve seen the proposals for JSK as mayor (etc), but she never really struck me as the politician type… so if the next NYC mayor gets rid of her, which sadly seems all too likely (given their apparent car-headedness), a national role in an appointed position would seem perfect for her, and a great chance to take her very effective style national.

  • Test

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  • JSK times out perfectly. Bloomberg administration has just one year left and she’s already got so much strong stuff set in place. Plus… he’s got 16 men and 8 women in there, and Hilary is gonna leave so simply from a balanced gender perspective, more women would be wise.  But… 2nd on the list to me would be Oberstar. Already familiar with the national level and fun to hear speak. He’s passionate about transit, which Ray LaHood became… but was not when he first started. Realistically though… Obama also needs some republican perspective in the mix. Wouldn’t be surprised if it went to a Red State member again….

  • Guapo

    Zozo!

  • Anonymous

    What’s so pathetic about the field of NYC mayoral candidates is that none of them would re-hire JSK.  Even after pieces like this one:
    http://observer.com/2011/09/road-warrior-janette-sadik-khan-is-the-best-mechanic-the-city-streets-have-had-in-a-generation-so-why-do-motorists-dislike-her-so-much/

  • Anonymous

    Soon-to-be-former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas was not krazy enuff for the Texas Repubs. For example, she’s been a big supporter of Amtrak and Texas Eagle. She was gonna get a Tea Party challenge and decided to retire.

    Don’t know KayBee’s views on other transportation issues. But she is smart and as I said, not krazy. So if the bipartisan and female things are important, she’s worth a look.

  • Joe R.

    I can’t think of a better person than JSK for the job. If she makes what we’ve done here in NYC federal policy there’s far less chance of a future mayor undoing the progress we’ve made.

  • shane phillips

    I think these are all great choices, but I made my selections based on a combination of good policy and good reputation for working well with others. As much as I love JSK and all she’s done, I don’t think now is the time to put a polarizing figure at the head of our transportation system–this is also why I didn’t choose Rogoff or Blumenauer. I think Klein and Villaraigosa are both great choices in terms of the types of policies they’d stand behind, and also because they seem to be liked by just about everyone. I question whether Villaraigosa would leave his post as LA mayor, but you never know. I also threw in Katz, although I know less about him.

  • Keep in mind that the next USDOT secretary will (next year!) have to help shepherd a new bill across a still-divided Hill, amidst a much stronger mood of austerity. Holeywell’s article also points out that Oberstar is 78 years old.

    Gabe Klein has taken some of the blame for the as-yet poorly implemented streetcar line six blocks north of the Capitol

  • How do I vote?

  • Jared

    Janette Sadik-Khan – obviously. 

  • anon

    I’m guessing it won’t be this winner: http://boston.com/metrodesk/2012/11/18/state-highway-safety-director-reassigned-following-revelations-driving-violations/cmG7kjfrKLHCvAxWwPMpIM/story.html?comments=all#readerComm

  • Take your pick from inside the Beltway if you want an effective executive. Gimme Oberstar or Blumenauer.

  • Rbsiipola

    Gene Conti.  Knows the department, policies and implementation.

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