A coast-to-coast relationship between former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and his son David is about to become a crosstown connection, much to the delight of the elder Mineta, a Democratic House member from California from 1975-95.
David Mineta is awaiting Senate confirmation as deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a post that will bring him to the Washington area for the first time since he graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., in 1981, his father said.
After high school, Mineta earned a bachelor's at the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree in social work from San Jose State University. He began a career as a social worker with Asian Americans for Community Involvement, based in San Jose, Calif., and in 1996 he moved to Asian American Recovery Services, where he is deputy director. AARS describes itself as "one of the largest and most successful substance abuse agencies" assisting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the San Francisco Bay area.
At the urging of the White House, David Mineta declined an interview request until after he is confirmed, which is virtually certain but remains pending. His nomination is expected to be approved soon by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee without a formal hearing, a spokeswoman said.
Norm Mineta said his son apparently was not the first choice for the position, after he was interviewed for it in August. The White House picked someone else, but called Mineta in December to say the other candidate didn't make it through the vetting process. "He and his wife had made other plans, but they pressured him, so he gave it some thought and decided to accept the nomination," Norm Mineta said.
"He's done all this on his own," Mineta added. "He was always socially conscious and always interested in the community."
David and his wife, Christine, plan to bring their two children, Lauryn, 8, and Matthew, 5, out for a visit soon to begin scouting potential homes and schools, said Norm Mineta, currently vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton, working mostly on transportation and business development issues.
David's selection as head of demand reduction in the drug policy office signals the direction President Obama is taking in the often polarizing issue. Obama pledged in his presidential campaign to treat drugs as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.
ONDCP, headed by Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief with 37 years in law enforcement, promises to unveil a new strategy this year that focuses on reducing drug consumption in the United States.
This article appears in the May 1, 2010, edition of NJ Daily.