Mesa County eyes Wagner for airport panel

Local attorney, radio host and Daily Sentinel columnist Rick Wagner is poised to become the latest addition to the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority board.

Mesa County commissioners are expected to make his nomination official at their regular public meeting Monday, naming him as one of their three appointees to the seven-person board.

“I’m more of a consumer of air services,” Wagner said, explaining what sort of perspective he might bring to the body. “I think the main thing to do out at the airport is to have flexible, affordable air transport for people in and out of the valley, to help businesses.

“What makes the system work is some competition and choice for consumers.”

Regarding the contentious security expansion at the airport, including the building of a security fence, Wagner concedes that the issue has become a “battleground” of sorts and that the fence perhaps “has become far too much of a focus.”

“The fence may be a problem, but it’s usually a symbol of something else,” he said.

As one of the valley’s most visible and outspoken conservative voices — Wagner’s column appears in the Sentinel every Thursday, and his radio show can be heard Saturdays at noon on KNZZ, Grand Junction,  and simulcast on KGLN, Glenwood Springs — he vows that airport board issues won’t be fodder for either of those outlets. He says that would be “completely wrong.”

“Sometimes, as fiery as I may seem on the editorial page, I’m a lot more sedate in real life,” Wagner said. “(My airport board service) is obviously separate from anything I would write about.”

Wagner will take the seat held by Tom LaCroix, whose second term expires in April. Wagner’s term will end in April 2017.

Wagner was the only person interviewed among 16 applicants for the nomination, Commissioner John Justman said.

“I don’t think he has an axe to grind. It isn’t like he has a plane out there and thinks he can’t get to it,” Justman said regarding Wagner’s non-aviation background. “I thought not being connected with the turmoil they’ve had would be a big plus at this particular time.”

Commissioners appoint three of the seven members of the Airport Authority board, which has oversight over operations at the airport. The Grand Junction City Council also appoints three members, and the two entities jointly appoint a seventh, at-large member.


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