• 86°

Barbour praises Bush choice of new HUD secretary

President Bush’s nomination of Steve Preston as the new secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development drew praise Friday from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Preston, currently the Small Business Administration director, would replace HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson if confirmed by the Senate. Jackson announced his resignation last month amid a criminal investigation and allegations of political favoritism.

Barbour said that in his SBA role, Preston was well-versed in issues related to Hurricane Katrina recovery.

“Steve Preston did an excellent job helping dig SBA out of a number of problems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I am glad to see such a proven, strong manager at the helm of HUD and know he will do an outstanding job. I look forward to continuing working with him in his new position,” Barbour said in a statement.

He said a large part of Mississippi’s post-Katrina recovery effort depended on HUD. He singled out the Community Development Block Grant program under which more than $5.4 billion in recovery funds has been allocated to the state.

He also praised the president’s appointment of retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Doug O’Dell to serve as the new coordinator for the Gulf Coast’s recovery from the 2005 hurricanes.