He calls President Obama a friend.
WMBD 31 sat down with U.S. Transportation Secretary and Peorian, Ray LaHood to talk about what Congress needs to do to re-gain America's trust and what he might do next.
Why do you think the country has become so polarized? Is there a solution on the horizon?
Secretary LaHood: "Electing people that want to get something done, electing people to jobs that when they run for those jobs, they tell the public that they're gonna help solve problems and then, whether they're going to Springfield or Washington, they actually go there, work with others to compromise on big issues, big problems, in order to solve the state's or country's problems in the case of Washington.
I think we've seen too much polarization. The reason Congress is held in such low regard is because people think that nothing is really getting accomplished. The problems aren't getting solved. The way to solve problems is by working together, sharing ideas and ultimately compromising."
How likely do you think it is that rail service will come to Peoria?
Secretary LaHood: "Well, I know there's a study going on and what Peoria has to prove is that there will be the ridership. That's the way that you really entice Amtrak to look at Peoria as a stop from Chicago, or from the west. The city, the community, the region has to show that there will be people to board trains, will be people to fill up trains. And that's the way you entice Amtrak to come to Peoria. And I know Mayor Ardis and others are working on that opportunity through a study."
Switching to airports, there's a lot of growth at Peoria International, CIRA in Bloomington, do you think Central Illinois can sustain growth at both airports?
Secretary LaHood: "I do because I think both, obviously the Bloomington airport attracts a little different region than Peoria. They attract people from as far away as Decatur, and that rural part of Decatur. As far away in some instances, as Champaign, in some instances, as Springfield. We attract from the west like the Quad Cities, from the north. Where, if it weren't for Peoria, a lot of people wouldn't have access.So both of these airports support two different regions, two different parts of the state. They do have the ability to sustain the kind of growth and provide the service because of the different regions that they serve."
Secretary, you've said that you'd step down from your post at the end of the president's first term. Is that still your plan?
Secretary LaHood: "Well, what I'm gonna do is sit down with the president after the election and talk about his vision for his next term. And we'll see where that takes it. This is a very busy job, I've been in public service for 35 years. I may be looking for other opportunities. But I'm gonna, look, the president's a friend. He's given me this opportunity to serve the country, to serve the transportation needs of the country. And so, we'll talk about the future after the election."
Whether he stays another term or not, LaHood says he hopes he'll be remembered for making safety his number one accomplishment.