Peter Jacobs, 5/12/16 business insider
President-elect Donald Trump has picked Ben Carson to be his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who faced off against Trump in this year’s Republican primaries, is the first African-American nominated for Trump’s Cabinet.
In a statement announcing the nomination, Trump referred to Carson’s overcoming a troubled youth in Detroit to become head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Trump said. “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”
“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration,” Carson said. “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
While Carson has been a strong Trump supporter since dropping his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination, he would enter with no experience working in government.
“He has no expertise in housing policy, but he did spend part of his childhood in public housing, said a close friend, Armstrong Williams, and he was raised by a dauntless mother with a grammar-school education,” The New York Times reports.
Politico notes, however, that Carson has weighed in on housing policy before, specifically the Obama administration’s new fair-housing rule.
“These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse,” Carson wrote in a 2015 op-ed article for The Washington Times.
“Based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous,” he added.
Carson had previously said he was not interested in a Cabinet position. He was rumored to be under consideration for secretary of education and secretary of health and human services.
The Hill reported in November that Williams, Carson’s business manager and close confidant, said Carson wouldn’t join the administration and would instead be an unofficial adviser after reports surfaced that Carson rejected an offer to be HHS secretary.
“Dr. Carson was never offered a specific position, but everything was open to him,” Williams told The Hill. “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience; he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
In an interview with Business Insider just before the election, Carson said, “I don’t want to be a part of the administration.”
“Not that I have anything against it,” he said. “Just that I think my voice will actually be more valuable outside the administration. There are so many issues that affect our country right now, and we can’t lose sight of them. So winning the election is really just step one.”
“I’ll continue to write, continue to speak publicly, and work on helping to focus us as a nation on what’s really important,” he said.