Hersman may join Obama’s cabinet

PARKERSBURG – As part of the second term shakeup of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, a Roane County native is being touted as a possible new Secretary of Transportation.

Deborah Hersman, the current chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, has the backing of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D- W.Va., for the post.

Prior to her appointment by former President George W. Bush, she was on the staff of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rockefeller. During part of her time with the committee she was the senior adviser.

The Wall Street Journal reported unnamed sources close to the selection process said she is a top pick for the cabinet position to replace Ray LaHood, who has resigned.

Rockefeller tweeted Hersman “has experience to be terrific USDOT Secretary,” according to The Hill. He said Hersman’s priorities will be safety and investment in infrastructure if she is appointed.

Rockefeller said Hersman has strong West Virginia ties and she is an asset to the board.

Hersman, who is in her second term as chairman of the five-member board, has publicly stated she wants to focus on her current position and is not interested in the secretary post.

Hersman received bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies from Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She holds a commercial driver’s license

The U.S. Department of Transportation has almost 60,000 employees. President Obama’s 2013 budget request includes $74 billion for the department.

Department agencies include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Maritime Administration.