Joe Biden selects Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary

Democratic U.S. 2020 election presidential candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden pose during the second night of the first Democratic presidential candidates debate in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his Transportation secretary, three people familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

Buttigieg, who was an opponent of Biden’s during the 2020 primary elections, is expected to play a central role in the incoming president’s plans to restore and repair roads and bridges throughout the U.S.

The president-elect has for months said smart, climate-friendly infrastructure projects can help the U.S. emerge from the coronavirus recession stronger and help support thousands of jobs.

A spokesman for the Biden transition team did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Buttigieg, 38, quickly became a household name during the 2020 elections as a younger, yet still moderate option for Democrats hoping to prevent a second term for President Donald Trump.

Though Buttigieg dropped out of the 2020 race in March despite winning in the Iowa caucuses, the openly gay politician soon thereafter endorsed Biden for president.

The president-elect has often offered high praise for Buttigieg as emblematic of the next generation of Democrats and was widely expected to name him to a high-level administration post.

Buttigieg, a military veteran, is perhaps best known in politics for his two terms as the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020.

Under his tenure, the city embarked on extensive urban development and economic revitalization projects similar to those championed by Biden in promises to revitalize American infrastructure.

Critics of his time as mayor say his revitalization plans for South Bend did not necessarily benefit racial minorities as much as hoped.

For example, many were optimistic about his plans to knock down or repair nearly all of the city’s vacant homes, a demanding initiative that experts thought beyond possible. The program concentrated on the city’s lowest-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where homes were in disrepair.

And while many said they were happy to see dilapidated structures removed, they lamented a lack of planning on what would fill the space.

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