Now boarding: 5 candidates vie for Truckee Tahoe Airport Board (VIDEO) |

Now boarding: 5 candidates vie for Truckee Tahoe Airport Board (VIDEO)

Five candidates will vie for two seats on the Truckee Tahoe Airport Board of Directors this upcoming election.

Incumbents John Jones and James Morrison are seeking reelection, while Mary Hetherington, Joe Lorenz, and Peter van Peborgh are challenging for a seat on the board.

The five-person board provides oversight and leadership to the district, and serves for a four-year term.

Several issues face the candidates ahead of election night. Airport safety has been the paramount issue according to several of the candidates, followed by noise, approval of the airport’s annual budget, increases in air traffic, and the installation of an automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast (ADS-B) system, which according to the Federal Aviation Administration, offers real-time precision, shared situational awareness, and advanced applications for pilots and controllers.

Last year, the airport had 33,580 aircraft operations, according to the district’s annual report, equaling to an average of 92 operations per day, which continues a year-over-year increase since 2013.

Mary Hetherington

Age: 59

Hometown: Chico

Occupation: Civil/environmental engineer


Why are you running for office?

A healthy airport brings many benefits to the community and we have a healthy airport. I believe we can continue to have a great, safe airport, but one that is not like Aspen’s. Our Airport District can be a leader in benefiting the entire region by using the $6 million that is receives annually from property taxes. This money could potentially be used to acquire a conservation easement on Martis Valley West, facilitate better ground transportation systems, work on housing solutions, and continue to address noise and annoyance for those who live under the flight paths.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The most important issue facing the airport is the proposed technological change associated with the proposed ADS-B system — think of it as a satellite-based radar system. Other candidates believe that this system will drastically reduce noise and annoyance. I am concerned that this system could actually increase operations, particularly corporate flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and it will do nothing to mitigate touch-and-go operations. We must also consider if the price tag of $1.75 million to install this system, and at least $1 million per year to staff this initiative are good uses of taxpayer dollars. The Airport Board and staff need to honestly research and understand the unintended consequences of this proposal before it is implemented. It is very difficult to backtrack on technology once it is installed. Furthermore, these property tax dollars could be used to serve the broader community by addressing traffic and housing issues.

John Jones

Age: 74

Hometown: San Francisco, Marin County and Truckee

Occupation: Retired analyst of tech companies’ investment funds


Why are you running for office?

I want to give back to my community and believe my unique perspective as a pilot is most effective as a community advocate on TTAD’s board of directors. Over the past two consecutive terms serving alongside Jim Morrison, we’ve begun implementing safety measures that will also reduce the amount of air traffic noise over residential areas near the airport. I am dedicated to safety, I have a mission to reduce jet noise and I can see the light at the end of that tunnel. Moreover, I want to continue making the best choices to support the efforts of community nonprofits.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The airport’s highest priority is safety. As the only two incumbents with firsthand experience in aviation, Jim Morrison and I have learned best practices for safety, like cutting-down response time during emergency situations. We support emergency response services including Care Flight patient transport, Search and Rescue, forest fire response and ways to cut-down response time, like constructing emergency helipads. Our second highest priority is to reduce the amount of jet noise annoyance over communities in close proximity to the airport by installing ADS-B radar detection. Ultimately, this technology will be integrated with the FAA to give us better contact with pilots overhead, more control over arriving and departing flights and the ability to route a meaningful amount of jet traffic over Lake Tahoe and Hwy 267, rather than above residential communities near the airport. I support community programs and want to continue allocating funds toward economic development.

Joe Lorenz

Age: 57

Hometown: Truckee

Occupation: Retired public affairs representative


Why are you running for office?

My wife Mary and I became full-time residents of Truckee over a year ago and we couldn’t be more pleased with our decision. The Truckee Tahoe Airport is one of the many economic assets in the area and one where I would be honored to contribute to this community by serving as a board member. Like any asset, the Airport District requires experienced and principled leadership. I believe the experience I’ve gained in my many years of business and nonprofit service would be of value to our community.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The district has a strong community outreach reputation with a distinguished record of making lasting social investments in the area. As an incoming board member and a pilot, I would want to see the district continue to move in this direction. Equally, I view my role on the board as one who has been entrusted to be a good steward of the public funding provided to the District. Working in partnership with my fellow board members, my task is to make reasoned and balanced decisions not only on current issues facing the District but also on future plans and projects to ensure that both the pilot and the local community’s interests are represented. Whether those issues pertain to noise abatement, growth, or affordable housing, I believe I have the skills and experience necessary to bring together all stakeholders to find thoughtful solutions. And with your help in November, I look forward to getting started.

Jim Morrison

Age: 41

Hometown: Currently Tahoe City

Occupation: Contractor and owner of Jim Morrison Construction


Why are you running for office?

I am running for office to make a meaningful difference in the communities I love. The Truckee Tahoe Airport District board of directors is a committee on which I have been honored to serve two consecutive years with John Jones. It isn’t enough to use the airport as a pilot, I’m eager to work and to continue making positive strides in the interest of the airport’s safety measures for its users and other stakeholders, jet noise annoyance mitigation by implementing ADS-B radar and being a good neighbor by continuing our financial responsibility to support as many community entities as possible.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The Truckee Tahoe Airport District is always most concerned with the safety of the airport and its users. As such, John Jones and I are proponents of installing the new ADS-B radar system to have better eyes on people in the sky flying below 10,000 feet. The technology will enhance pilot safety and will also directly improve the second most important issue our district faces – jet plane noise and annoyance. ADS-B is building on our new year-round tower and will allow our flights to be published with the FAA, ultimately helping us to redirect a significant amount of the existing plane traffic away from residential areas near the airport. Equally important to the first two issues we face is being a good neighbor to all communities in the airport district by continuing to support economic development with substantial funding toward meaningful community projects and programs.

Peter van Peborgh

Age: 57

Hometown: Kings Beach

Occupation: Property manager

Why are you running for office?

Free transportation because of global warming. The Airport is a transportation hub and receives much money from the community and it would behoove the community to receive a benefit that rewards everyone. Free transportation is a win-win-win situation in which bus riders receive financial benefit, drivers get less congestion and everyone else receives cleaner air. Future generations will thank us, I hope.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

Because of growth the housing situation is bad. Property values have gone up and made life difficult for those working here. Something needs to be done. The TTAB can help financially but zoning and permitting issues need to be dealt with through other boards. Though not the most important issue I believe transportation is equally important. I believe global warming is an issue that can be dealt with locally. Offering people a carrot is better than using the stick approach. Free transportation will entice people who otherwise would never think of taking mass transit. I think it would be wonderful if that service was brought by the Truckee Tahoe Airport. It would be good advertising for the Airport. Services at the Airport can be advertised in and on the buses to let visitors and locals alike know about opportunities at the Airport and in the community. It is a use of tax dollars that benefits everyone, even future generations.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

2018 Candidate Forum 1 from TTCTV on Vimeo.

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