Frontrunners revealed in Truckee Tahoe Airport District Board race
Special to the Sierra Sun
David Diamond appears poised to take a seat on the Truckee Tahoe Airport District Board, according to election results.
Diamond received 2,771 votes in Nevada County, and 2,905 votes in Placer County, for a total of 5,676 votes.
Incumbent Rick Stephens received 2,370 votes from Nevada County and 2,538 votes from Placer County, bringing his total to 4,908.
Incumbent and serving Board President Teresa O’Dette received 3,358 total votes. Ken Aronson got 2,981, and Leigh Golden received 2,795.
The top three vote-getters will be seated on the board.
Diamond said he remains “cautiously optimistic” as votes are still being counted between counties for the special district, as winners have not been officially announced.
“I haven’t posted anything on social media because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Diamond said.
Diamond heard Dave Mencarelli on 101.5 FM Truckee Tahoe Radio announce that he was in first for the race from the open door of his car as he pulled signs from the side of the road on election night.
Diamond said if the election’s final results align with the current projections, he is looking forward to being on a board cohesive enough to accomplish a lot over the next four years.
“When I think of the five people who at this point in time appear to make up the board — including Kat Rohlf — this could be one of the most community-focused, productive airport boards we’ve ever seen,” Diamond said. “I’m really excited.”
The fifth person on the board is Mary Heatherington, who didn’t have to run for election this year. Lisa Wallace didn’t seek reelection.
Diamond said the board he anticipates joining is made up of creative problem solvers and he is honored to join their contingent on behalf of the community.
Diamond said he was surprised to receive the most votes out of any candidate who ran in the race, but his commitment to solving regional problems and communicating transparently with the district’s constituents is paramount.
Stephens said he used the same campaign signs in 2020 as he did in 2016. Similarly, Stephens’ concerns with aviation safety, noise and annoyance and community support remain constant.
Stephens said navigating his campaign amidst the pandemic and COVID-19-related concerns was challenging, but the board has remained active over the past few months.
Stephens said the airport board not only appointed a replacement for pilot and former chair Jim Morrison, who left in August, but secured funding for local conservation efforts.
“It was a million, but at the last board meeting we agreed to put a half million dollars into the Tahoe Donner Land Trust,” Stephens said.
Almost 30 acres south of the Truckee River, called Truckee Springs, was originally slated to be housing, Stephens said.
“Now it will be open space, and we’ll be able to run Legacy Trail from Brockway Road to where the Truckee River turns south toward Squaw,” Stephens said. “The land trust has put a sign on property — ‘Coming soon: Nothing.’”
O’Dette said she is grateful a pilot will be joining the board, but is not likely to celebrate until the election is certified — a process that could take about 30 days.
“I’m super excited David Diamond won, because I depend on a pilot’s voice on the board because it’s valuable,” O’Dette said.
O’Dette did not run a campaign this election cycle and reiterated that as an elected representative to the district, she has “no more agenda other than to do great things.”
“With the five people looking like they’ll probably be on the board, I’m optimistic we’ll get some great things done,” O’Dette said.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff write for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.
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