Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Norman Y. Mineta (2001–2006): Secretary of Transportation

Norman Yoshio Mineta was born in 1931 in San Jose, California. Mineta and his family spent World War II in an internment camp in Wyoming, but after the war he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1953 and spent the next three years in the Army.

In 1962, Mineta became involved in San Jose politics, serving on the San Jose Human Relations Commission from 1962 to 1964, winning a seat on the board of directors of the San Jose Housing Authority in 1966, and then becoming first a member of the San Jose city council in 1967, vice mayor in 1968, and finally mayor in 1971.

In 1974, Mineta won election to the United States Congress; his tenure in the House of Representatives lasted from 1975 to 1995. In 1992, Mineta declined President-elect Bill Clinton's offer to become secretary of transportation, deciding to retain his House seat, but by 1995, Mineta had left Congress to become vice-president of Lockheed Martin's Transportation System and Services Division. In 1997, Mineta became chairman of the Federal Aviation Administration's National Civil Aviation Review Commission

In 2000, Mineta accepted President Clinton's offer to become secretary of commerce. In 2001, Mineta became secretary of transportation for President George W. Bush. He was the only Democrat in Bush's cabinet until he resigned in 2006.