Planners Poised to Play Prominent Role in Presidential Transition

Planning experts are advising the presidential transition — which could mean more opportunities to build federal support for planning and planning-related programs in the next four years.

Tapped to manage the key transition of key agencies, private and public sector leaders with deep ties to the profession are laying the groundwork for the new administration’s policy agenda.

Transition team members with planning connections include:

  • Erika Poethig (Urban Institute) U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Phil Washington (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority), John Porcari (WSP), and Gabe Klein (Cityfi) U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Marisa Lago (New York City Department of City Planning and City Planning Commission) U.S. Department of Treasury

While announcements of nominees for planning-related Cabinet positions are ongoing, we now know that U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio-11) is President-elect Biden’s pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A former mayor, Fudge has a record of supporting planning in Northeast Ohio. She is also a leader on urban agriculture issues in the House.

Former mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is President-elect Biden's pick for Department of Transportation Secretary. During his tenure as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg slashed parking minimums, established a Smart Streets program, and prioritized city-wide efforts to create affordable transportation options for low-income workers.

Gina McCarthy will lead the new administration's response to the climate crisis in her role as White House Climate Czar. McCarthy formerly headed the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), where she developed the nation's first greenhouse gas vehicle standards during what was — at the time — the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Michael Regan — an environmental justice advocate — was tapped to lead the EPA, where he has long served under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Appointed to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality is Brenda Mallory. Mallory is an experienced National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) litigator, which could signal President-elect Biden's intention to reopen the NEPA ruling finalized by the Trump administration earlier this year.

The priority issues already identified by the Biden transition team are also noteworthy. Planners can expect early focus and action from the new administration on COVID-19, economic recovery, climate change, and racial equity. These issues are also among those atop APA’s policy agenda for 2021.

The "Road to Recovery" Starts With Planning

Presidential transition team adviser John Porcari, president for advisory services at WSP, recently spoke with APA about the essential role of planning in community recovery.

Watch the Interview

Prepare for a New Administration With APA Resources

Watch Election 2020: The Agenda for Planning and Recovery for more APA insights on the transition team, election outcomes, and the potential for action on planning priorities in the 117th Congress. Access the full recording in APA Learn.

Follow us at @APAadvocates for news on planning-related appointments to the new administration.

Planning for an Inclusive and Equitable Recovery

Presidential transition team adviser Erika Poethig spoke with attendees at APA’s recent digital conference, NPC20@Home, about the current economic landscape confronting planners and approaches for pursuing economic recovery through inclusive and equitable growth.

Watch the Presentation

Top image: Photo of the White House by Flickr user Angela M. (CC BY 2.0).

About the Author
Emily Pasi is APA's public affairs manager.

December 16, 2020

By Emily Pasi