Danville council set to vote on replacing alderman on airport commission

Danville council set to vote on replacing alderman on airport commission

DANVILLE — The Vermilion Regional Airport may get another new commissioner today as the city council is set to consider appointing a replacement for Alderman Steve Foster, who resigned from the airport board last month.

A complaint filed earlier this year claimed Foster was ineligible to serve as an airport commissioner because of state statutes that prohibit them from serving in an official capacity with any other governmental body.

The complaint, filed with the Illinois Department of Transportation by the Edgar County Watchdogs, questioned the eligibility of four of the five commissioners because they serve on other governmental bodies.

The private citizens group filed similar complaints with IDOT concerning commissioners serving on the Springfield Airport Authority board, among others.

Jonathan Myer, another airport commissioner whose eligibility was questioned because he is also a member of the Vermilion County Conservation District's board of trustees, resigned from the airport board earlier this summer; the Vermilion County Board, which also makes appointments to the airport commission, chose Joe Vincent to replace him on July 10.

Foster did not resign immediately because he was waiting on an opinion from the airport authority's attorney and direction from IDOT on whether the complaint was accurately interpreting the state statutes.

"All lawyers said it's very vague," Foster said Monday of the language in the state statutes. He said the Legislature needs to address it, and he believes that might happen, according to conversations he's had with local legislators.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer agrees.

"I still think there are many questions as it relates to the statutes governing this particular board," Eisenhauer said. "I believe there is room to revisit that statute."

He said he believes the confusion lies in the various types of airports. Vermilion Regional Airport is not a municipal airport, and the city has no authority over it except the appointment of three of the five commissioners. The county appoints the other two.

"In our case, this is a regional airport with no municipal oversight, so frankly, there is no conflict with an aldermen in his role as a commissioner," he said, adding that it would be different if the airport were owned, funded or directed by the city.

To remain a commissioner, Foster said he would have had to legally challenge the complaint, and it's not worth incurring the legal fees to do so.

At Tuesday's city council meeting, set for 6 p.m. at City Hall, Eisenhauer is set to recommend the appointment of Craig Davidson of Danville to replace Foster as commissioner.

In an Aug. 2 letter to Eisenhauer expressing his interest in the appointment, Davidson, a retired commercial pilot, said he's been in aviation his entire adult life.

He began his professional career in 1978 in Danville as a flight instructor and then as a freight pilot, flying for a variety of freight carriers and a commuter airline until he was hired by American Airlines in 1984.

After 25 years of service, he's now retired and is very active at the Vermilion Regional Airport, spending five days a week there restoring, maintaining and flying World War II-era aircraft.

Foster said it's difficult to find people willing to serve on boards, commissions and other governmental bodies, and he's concerned that situations like this will only discourage others from serving. He said the language needs to be clarified.

The airport has also experienced turnover this summer in the manager's position.

At the commission's June 19 meeting, Mike Potter offered his resignation as full-time airport manager after a closed-session discussion with the board.

Mike Vadeboncoeur, an employee of Midwest Aero Restorations, which is located at the airport, was appointed as interim manager; the board make his selection permanent last month.