Editor's Note -- The
following is the unedited statement from the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association on the naming Tuesday of Mary Peters as
President Bush's nominee for Secretary of Transportation.
AOPA is looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge
presented Tuesday afternoon when President Bush nominated former
Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters to be the Secretary of
Transportation. If confirmed by the Senate, she'll replace Norman
Y. Mineta, who resigned in June.
"While I don't yet know her personally, Mary Peters has a
reputation for honesty, integrity, and a willingness to listen and
understand all sides of an issue," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
"And as I've done with the eight previous Secretaries of
Transportation that have been appointed since I've headed AOPA, I
intend to be one of the first through the door to start her
education on general aviation."
Not that she's totally inexperienced in aviation. Prior to
heading the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) - a Department of
Transportation agency, just like the FAA - Peters had risen up
through the ranks to lead the Arizona Department of Transportation,
which, in addition to highways, oversees aviation and 82 airports
in the nation's sixth largest state.
The new Secretary of
Transportation will be the president's point person in the FAA
funding debate, and the critical "go-between" for Congress, the
White House, and the general public on the issue of user fees.
Her position on aviation user fees is far from clear. While as
FHWA chief she had advocated highway tolls (a kind of user fee) for
upgrading and maintaining the nation's roads.
"That's because the highway trust fund is going to go broke. The
aviation trust fund isn't," said Boyer (right).
In fact, as a passionate motorcyclist, Peters understands that
different transportation modes need to be treated differently, and
some users taxed at a different rate than others, explained a
Washington insider who has to remain unnamed while the nomination
She can also be hardnosed when it comes to spending the public's
money. She is credited with making the FHWA more accountable for
how it disperses highway funds, and she established an audit
division at the Arizona DOT to tighten financial controls
"We look forward to collaborating with Mary Peters,
particularly in this next year as we reestablish the funding
mechanism for our aviation infrastructure and the FAA," said Boyer.
"And rest assured in my first visit I'll come equipped with a
picture of my Harley-Davidson Heritage Softtail, and be prepared to
share motorcycle stories."
"AOPA fully intends to take every opportunity to take
advantage of her good listening skills reputation to explain why
user fees would be harmful to the world's best aviation
Mary Peters served as FHWA Administrator from October 2001 until
her resignation in 2005. She spent three years as the director of
the Arizona DOT, culminating a 16-year career there.