President-elect Barack Obama nominated former U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation in a formal announcement Friday.
LaHood is retiring from the U.S. Congress after serving seven terms representing the 18th District of Illinois. He served on the House Appropriations Committee.
LaHood started his career teaching junior high school students, and later served as the Chief Planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Commission, Director of the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau, and as District Administrative Assistant for Congressman Tom Railsback.
After serving in the Illinois State House of Representatives in 1982, LaHood worked for U.S. House Republican Leader Robert Michel as District Administrative Assistant and, for four years, as Chief of Staff. He succeeded Mr. Michel upon his retirement in January of 1995.
In the United States Congress, LaHood served for six years on the Transportation Committee and has led efforts to enhance Illinois’ infrastructure, working to secure funds to improve local highways, such as the reconstruction of Interstate 74 in Peoria, the expansion of U.S. Route 67, and the completion of Route 336.
He has been a proponent for improving local airports through securing funds for new construction and expansion, while also working with officials to increase air service. LaHood, a native of Peoria, Ill., is married to his wife Kathy and they have four children.
“Congressman LaHood’s broad experience and well-known pragmatism make him an excellent choice to lead and support America’s transportation future," said U.S. DOT Secretary Mary Peters in a statement. "There will be challenges, but there are also incredible opportunities to continue work to improve transportation safety, tackle congestion and promote mobility, expand global transportation opportunities, rebuild transportation systems after disasters, and continue fundamental transportation reform. I’m confident our nation’s transportation network will be in good hands under the leadership of Congressman LaHood.”