Truckee Tahoe Airport District picks new member |

Truckee Tahoe Airport District picks new member

Rebecca O’Neil
Special to the Sierra Sun

Four members of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District Board appointed Kat Rohlf to the vacated board position during a special meeting this week.

During a question-and-answer session on Tuesday Rohlf highlighted the leadership balance necessary to allay noise and annoyance complaints from the local community, as the Tahoe region continues to develop and, in doing so, invites more air traffic.

The former Montessori teacher and Oberlin alum served for nine years on the board of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. In her letter of interest to the board, the mother of three identified as a member of Airport Community Advisory Team for the past five years.

The board, made up of Mary Heatherington, President Teresa O’Dette, Rick Stephens and Lisa Wallace, used a matrix method to determine the replacement for Jim Morrison, a pilot who stepped down about three months before the November election.

The district’s legal counsel, Josh Nelson, read off each of the five applicants’ names and current board members ranked the applicants from one to five. Then, Nelson averaged the rankings.

The ranking took place after a question-and-answer session in which applicants were invited to present and consider different issues that affect the special district.

The first round of rankings yielded a tie between community member Rohlf and pilot Bill Quesnel. Heatherington then requested a second round of voting.

During the second round of rankings, all board members ranked applicants the same, except Heatherington.

The board’s vice president switched the ranking of her first and second choice — Andrew Terry and Rohlf, both “non-aviators.” The amended vote gave Rohlf a better average than Quesnel.

Although the margin was small, the board moved to appoint Rohlf, a self-identified community volunteer. O’Dette, for whom pilot Jim Jones was the top choice, was the sole board member to vote against the motion to appoint.

Heatherington said insightful answers from all the candidates made the selection process challenging.

Heatherington expressed concern that a pilot appointment would lead to a majority pilot-occupied board.

“I see this district as a business,” Heatherington said. “You wouldn’t want all doctors at a hospital board or only working teachers on a school board.”

O’Dette said she values pilots’ presence on the board, and her top choice — Jones — reflected that priority.

“We will for sure get more than one pilot in the general (election), but I think it’s really important to have pilots on the board,” O’Dette said. “I think at least two is ideal.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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