Santa Maria Airport board seeks to fill vacancy

By Brian Bullock / Staff Writer /

Santa Maria Times | Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Santa Maria Public Airport District board of directors has begun the process of filling the seat left vacant by the death of longtime member Ted Eckert.

The board directed General Manager Chris Hastert to post a notice of the vacancy and begin accepting applications to appoint someone to fill Eckert’s chair.

Airport district counsel Raymond Biering told the board members they had three options in filling the position: appoint a new member, hold an election or do nothing and let the county handle the process.  Biering told the board an election would take time and be an expensive process.  ‘It really is within the discretion of the board to decide what is the best method,” Biering said.

The board chose to take applications and appoint a new member. The notice of vacancy was posted Friday. Applications are due to the board office by July 11, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.

The applications will be considered at the board’s July 14th meeting. Eckert’s term runs through December 2012.  “I don’t think it’s going to be easy,” board president Hugh Rafferty said about filling Eckert’s position.

Eckert died June 7 from pneumonia following surgery after having served 22 years on the airport board. He was re-elected to the board along with Chuck Damiano in the November 2010 election.

Hastert said the board had 60 days to begin the process following announcement of the vacancy. He also echoed Rafferty’s comment about replacing Eckert.  “I don’t think there is a candidate out there that could replace him. He had been here so long and served so well,” Hastert said about how much Eckert’s experience will be missed. “Big shoes to fill.”

Eckert and Damiano were two of the four candidates in the 2010 general election, and combined to amass 55 percent of the votes. It is Damiano’s second term on the board.

Girard Brenneman and Richard Plumlee were the other candidates. Brenneman earned 25 percent of the 41,530 votes cast in the election. Plumlee received 20 percent of the votes.

The board has filled vacancies by appointments in the past. Dick Hulme was appointed in 2000 and John Will was appointed in 2008.

Applications for the board of directors are available at the district office, 3217 Terminal Drive.

More information about the airport is available at or by calling 922-1726.

Posted in Local on Tuesday, June 28, 2011