Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta
Mineta was born in San Jose, California. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953. During World War II he was detained in an internment camp along with hundreds of other Japanese Americans. He joined the US Army in 1953 and served as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea. He then joined his father in the Mineta Insurance Agency.
His political career began in 1971 when he was elected mayor of San Jose, becoming the first Asian Pacific American mayor of a major U.S. city. From 1975 to 1995 he sat in the United States House of Representatives representing the Silicon Valley. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first chair.
Mineta served as chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee between 1992 and 1994. He chaired the committee's aviation subcommittee between 1981 and 1988, and chaired its Surface Transportation Subcommittee from 1989 to 1991. During his career in Congress he was a key author of the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. He also pressed for more funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Mineta was also the driving force behind passage of H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during the War. In 1995, George Washington University awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Medal to Mineta for his contributions to the field of civil rights.
After leaving the Congress, Mineta chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, which in 1997 issued recommendations on reducing traffic congestion and reducing the aviation accident rate. Many of the commission's recommendations were adopted by the Clinton administration, including reform of the FAA to enable it to perform more like a business.
After serving as vice president at Lockheed Martin Corporation, he was appointed in 2000 by Bill Clinton as the United States Secretary of Commerce, making him the first Asian American to hold a post in the presidential cabinet.
He was appointed United States Secretary of Transportation by President George W. Bush in 2001, a post he was originally offered eight years previously by Bill Clinton. He is currently the only Democrat in Bush's cabinet and also the first Secretary of Transportation to have previously served in a cabinet position.
Mineta is married to Danealia (Deni) Mineta. He has two sons, David and Stuart Mineta, and two stepsons, Robert and Mark Brantner.