CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx resigned Monday at a special meeting of the City Council, sharing heartfelt memories of the city as he prepares to be sworn in and join President Barack Obama’s Cabinet as U.S. transportation secretary.
Foxx said he deeply cares about Charlotte and listed a number of accomplishments in office, including expanding the city’s light rail system.
“I love this city,” Foxx, 42, said. “I will always love this wonderful place. I scraped my knees on its streets. I went into its schools and got a wonderful education. I met some of the finest people I will ever know in this world right here in Charlotte.”
The Senate unanimously confirmed Foxx as transportation secretary last week to succeed Ray LaHood.
After his resignation, the city council appointed Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey as interim mayor to serve the remainder of Foxx’s two-year term, which expires in December. The mayor’s post also will be on this year’s ballot.
Council members praised Foxx at Monday’s meeting.
“We are truly losing a young man who grew up right before us,” Councilman James Mitchell said. “He did it with so much integrity. With so much love…We are so proud of you.”
Foxx has been mayor since 2009, leading the city when it hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
As mayor, Foxx, has pushed for expanded use of streetcars and a light rail extension. He also helped build a new runway at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and create a new regional freight distribution center that will link planes, trains and trucks to East Coast ports.
Reflecting on his tenure, Foxx said he ran for the city council nearly eight years ago because he wanted to make a difference.
“It was love of this community that motivated me to seek out city council at a time when the city was actually riding pretty high,” he said. “And I saw some cracks that I thought we needed to address. Some of it had to do with how safe our streets were.”
He said he decided to run for mayor after the city’s economy was bruised by the recession. Charlotte is a major financial center, home to Bank of America, one of the nation’s largest banks by assets. The city lost 27,000 jobs over a two-year period, Foxx said.
“I knew there would not be one easy day in this office,” he said. “I knew the magnitude of challenges facing this community was substantial.”
In the end, it was the right move, he said.
“Why do you do this? It’s love,” he said. “Love is what made my streets safe when I was kid. It’s what made a teacher from West Charlotte high school buy me a $25 shirt so I could be in a debate competition. It’s what this community shows every single day when we’re at our best. I love this community and have worked my tail off to make this city everything it can be.”
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