ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Norman Mineta, who as federal transportation secretary ordered commercial flights grounded after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, died Tuesday. He was 90.
John Flaherty, Mineta’s former chief of staff, said Mineta died “peacefullly at his home surrounded by family” in Edgewater, Maryland.
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“His cause of death was a heart ailment,” Flaherty added. “He was an extraordinary public servant and a very dear friend.”
Mineta broke racial barriers in becoming mayor of San Jose, California. He was also the first Asian-American to become a Cabinet secretary, serving under both Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.
Local officials paid tribute to the former San Jose mayor.
“San Jose has lost a great champion, and I have lost a deeply admired mentor,” said current San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo. “Norm Mineta gave me my start in public service as an 18-year-old intern in his Washington congressional office.”
A tweet from the Valley Transit Authority called Mineta a “Role model, leader, champion for public transportation.”
An official statement KRON4 received from the Mineta San Jose International Airport called the late secretary “a champion for aviation from his time leading the City of San Jose, to his 20 years representing Silicon Valley in Congress, to his service in two Presidential administrations.”
State Senator Dave Cortese said he was “deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Norman Mineta, someone I was honored to call a friend and mentor.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein called Mineta a “remarkable leader and good friend,” adding “his experience, expertise and his devotion to our country will be deeply missed.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta expressed his “deepest condolences” to Mineta’s family and went on to call him a “champion of civil liberties and the first Asian American to lead a major U.S. city.”
Representative Ro Khanna said of Mineta that he “overcame immense adversity as an imprisoned Japanese American in the US during WWII and went on to serve as a councilman, the mayor of San Jose, a member of Congress and a Cabinet official under two presidents.” Khanna also referred to the late Mineta as “one of my personal heroes.”