In February, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Adetokunbo “Toks” Omishakin Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).
Omishakin, 44, makes history as the first African-American to serve in that cabinet-level position responsible for overseeing all state agencies that regulate and support transportation and administer services related to the sector.
“Looking fwd to continued #partnership and realizing shared vision to implement initiatives with #Equity #Climate #Safety focus, for CA’s transportation system, now and in future. #CAForAll,” Omishakin said in his February tweet.
In California state government’s chain of command, Omishakin’s role as Secretary is a step up from his last role: Director of California Department of Transportation (CalTrans).
At the swearing-in ceremony Newsom said Omishakin brings experience and vision to the role.
“As head of the largest and most complex transportation system in the nation, I’m confident that he’ll continue to bring his forward-thinking leadership and dedication to serving the people of California,” Newsom stated “(Omishakin will) advance our ongoing work to build safer, healthier, and more sustainable communities that serve all Californians.”
The same day Omishakin took the oath of office, Gov. Newsom swore in Amy Tong, 48, to succeed his African American Secretary of California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) Yolanda Richardson.
Richardson resigned from the role in February, citing personal reasons. That same week California’s first African-American Surgeon General Nadine Burke-Harris also resigned “to focus on her family.”
In his role as CalSTA Secretary, Omishakin will oversee Caltrans, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Highway Patrol, the High-Speed Rail Authority, among other agencies and transportation-focused committees.
He is assuming the position after President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill into law last year. The legislation will direct billions of dollars into the state for wildfire preparation, public transit projects, bridge and road repair, and broadband internet.
California will receive $25 billion from the federal government for highways under the Reconnecting Communities Initiative. The program was created to undo some of the effects of the economic and social disruption caused by highway construction through a number of majority Black communities under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.