Anthony Foxx: From Charlotte mayor to 14th in command behind president

by: Blair Miller Updated:

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WASHINGTON - It's been nearly six months since Charlotte's former mayor Anthony Foxx left the Queen City to take on a major role in Washington.

Foxx is now part of the president’s Cabinet overseeing the nation’s transportation department.

Channel 9 anchor Blair Miller spent the day in Washington with Foxx.

Foxx is the 14th in command behind the president.

He is no longer a man whom anyone can approach on the street. He now has a Secret Service escort everywhere he goes.

But this week, Foxx gave Miller rare access into his life in Washington.

Miller caught up with Foxx on his way to lead a news conference about drunken driving.

His schedule is packed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. almost every day with meetings all over D.C.

In his office overlooking the Potamac River, Foxx showed Miller the reminders of Charlotte on his walls and his desk.

“I brought a few things with me and this is one (Panthers helmet),” Foxx said.

He said his first big test as Transportation Secretary came just four days after he was sworn in in July when an airliner crashed in San Francisco.

Foxx got the call while he was in Target.

“I was doing some shopping because we were still making the transition and I got a call from our emergency staff,” Foxx said.

GALLERY: Behind the scenes Blair Miller visits Anthony Foxx in Washington D.C.


He said some of his experiences as Charlotte mayor helped in his response.

He points to the 2007 murders of two police officers and the tornado outbreak in March of last year.

Foxx says both situations taught him about leading when communities need help quickly.

“Of course those are different types of tragic incidents, but some of the protocols you use are similar, so it was certainly a tough moment for me,” Foxx said.

RAW: Foxx says president played basketball with his son

“When you and I spoke in April and you said you weren’t going to run for mayor again, you said one of the biggest reasons was your family,” Miller said. “You specifically said, ‘These years are the ones where they will be very critical to me and to them because I don’t want to one of those dads that looks back and says 'gosh, I wish I had spent more time with my kids.’ I've got to believe this job takes away a lot more than being the mayor of Charlotte.”

“There’s sort of a two-edge sword here. In one respect, it’s a much bigger responsibility,” Foxx said. “But there’s a lot more support. I try to make sure I carve out time. In fact, this morning I went to my son’s holiday concert.”

Foxx said when he decided to leave the mayor’s post in Charlotte; he truly intended to take a break from politics.

Three weeks later, Obama called.

“Then on April. 29, I was at the White House at the announcement,” Foxx said.

The Department of Transportation is a couple miles from the White House. Foxx said he often meets with top administration leaders including Obama. Foxx said he meets with him every couple of weeks.

During Miller’s visit, Foxx had to break away to meet with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House.

He said they have developed close ties traveling the country to push transportation projects.

Foxx said his relationship with Obama has also grown into a friendship and that their families even get together.

“Do you every pinch yourself -- from West Charlotte High to Davidson College, now to the White House?” Miller asked.

“It was not within my contemplation at any point in my life, as a kid, watching presidents do their work. It’s just an amazing opportunity, and I’m really, really happy to be serving this president,” Foxx said.

He said he misses Charlotte and tries to get back once a month.

Foxx wouldn’t speculate on any future plans. He said his focus for the next three years is working for the president and improving the transportation system.