Airport candidates announce campaign for fall | SierraSun.com

Airport candidates announce campaign for fall

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Submitted to the SunKathleen Eagan, Mary Hetherington and Tom Van Berkem have announced that they intend to run for the Truckee Tahoe Airport District board in November.
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The November elections feature nearly 40 local government seats up for election, and three candidates seeking to head the airport district have already thrown their hats in the ring.

Kathleen Eagan, Mary Hetherington and Tom Van Berkem have announced their intentions to run for the Truckee Tahoe Airport District board. Eagan and Hetherington already sit on the five-member board. Van Berkem is the current chair of the Airport Community Advisory Team and seeks to fill the seat to be vacated by outgoing board member Paul Vatistas.

Vatistas has decided not to seek re-election due to business commitments, according to a press release.

“We want to continue making progress,” Eagan said. “We want to benefit the entire community, including the pilot community.”

Eagan, Hetherington and Vatistas were elected in 2004 after running as a slate on the “Community Airport Restoration Effort” ticket.

The heated 2004 campaign ended with the trio ousting incumbent board members Connie Stevens and Ken Foster.

After their election, the board surveyed local residents, created the Airport Community Advisory Team, and held a number of community and pilot meetings to get input on the issues surrounding the airport, Eagan said.

“I’m excited about the land acquisitions we’ve been able to do, and creating ACAT, the idea is to keep looking for opportunities that will benefit everybody,” Hetherington said.

The trio has already lined up support from some community leaders.

“They have brought the community perspective into the decision-making,” said Ted Owens, Nevada County 5th District Supervisor, after voicing his support in a press release.

Roger Kahn, long-time regional community leader, also said he backed the candidates.

Van Berkem came to the Airport Community Advisory Team as a non-pilot with a home at Northstar, so noise has been an important issue to him, he said in a previous interview.

“I’ve been fortunate in business and now I have the ability to give back,” Van Berkem said in a previous interview.

Van Berkem said he is excited to be running for the board.

“In the last four years, I have developed a significant appreciation for the needs of the local pilots as well as the broader district community. I welcome the opportunity to join the board and continue expanding its list of past and future successes,” he said in the press release.

During the past four years, in seeking to reduce noise and annoyance for air traffic, the airport board has worked with jet operators on testing “fly quiet” alternatives, has instituted incentives for pilots who comply with the airport’s voluntary curfew, is striving to steer flight patterns away from residential areas, has helped purchase a quieter four-bladed propeller for the glider tow plane, and has participated in the acquisition of open space lands near the airport to prevent future noise and annoyance complaints.