Final interviews were conducted this morning and the Coos County Airport Commission could offer the job of executive director to one of three finalists this afternoon.
“In a perfect world, we’ll have a decision made tomorrow,” Chairman Mike Lehman said Monday evening.
The candidates rubbed elbows with the public Monday evening at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport terminal, during an event advertised as a chance for the community to meet the contenders.
It was largely attended by airport officials and community leaders, including Sandra Messerle, director of the South Coast Development Council and Hank Hickox, manager of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
The three candidates declined to disclose their names to media, saying they wanted to eliminate any risk of jeopardizing their current positions. Commissioners would not provide their names, either.
However, the applicants talked freely about their experience.
Two men have more than 30 years of airport experience each. One is a business development director of an airport in Daytona Beach, Fla., a position he has held for 11 years.
The other is an airport manager in southern California, a job he has maintained for 10 years.
Another is a woman overseeing three airports in Florida. She has 15 years of airport industry experience and a master’s degree in aviation and aerospace science.
All three said they were drawn to the job because of recreation opportunities afforded by the Oregon Coast. One acknowledged it would constitute a pay raise.
In interviews with commissioners last month, it was disclosed that the new director would make around $100,000 a year.
Commissioners began their search for Executive Director Gary LeTellier’s replacement in early September. They were presented with a list of 20 applicants and whittled it down to three earlier this month.
LeTellier will retire at the end of the year. Officials hope to have his predecessor on board early next month, allowing for several weeks of overlap between the two.
Whoever lands the position will be tasked with improving the northbound service — recently scaled back to one flight per day — and establishing more connecting flights at Portland International Airport. He or she also will be expected to generate more revenue from the airport’s business park by attracting more tenants.
Monday’s function gave commissioners an opportunity to see who among the candidates had the best rapport with the public.
“We have three pretty strong contenders,” said commissioner Jon Barton. “It’s going to boil down to who will be the best fit with the community.”