Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey on shortlist for airport CEO job

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Washoe County Commission Chairman Bob Lucey is on the shortlist of candidates who have applied to become chief executive officer of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport Authority.

Lucey would likely have to step down from his elected position. But he said the job he got from voters has given him the necessary experience for the airport CEO job, a position that pays a base salary that’s nearly triple what he makes as a commissioner.

“I think I’m uniquely positioned to take it on,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal on Thursday. “I have enjoyed and felt I’ve done a lot here at the county for the last five years. I look at this as an opportunity to continue to serve my community in an area that I’ve become uniquely educated in. It’s because of the county and my opportunity here that I’ve been able to step forward for this.”

Lucey said he’s focused his attention as commissioner on transportation and tourism. He’s currently chairman of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor Authority board.

Airport CEO Marily Mora announced in January that she would retire in June. The board of trustees hired the recruiting firm Korn Ferry to provide it with a list of candidates to interview.

Lucey is one of eight candidates on the list. Other local candidates include RSCVA’s interim CEO Jennifer Cunningham and Tina West Iftiger, the airport authority’s vice president of economic development.

The other candidates are Agustin Arellano, an airport consultant from The Villages, Florida; Balram Bheodari, deputy general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Bryant Francis, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland; and Daren Griffin, director of PDXNext program operations at the Port of Portland.

The board will decide at a meeting Friday how to move forward on interviews.

Lucey said he expressed interest in the job before the COVID-19 pandemic, but said he has the qualifications to lead the airport through the crisis.

“We’ve seen the massive changes to flights and air service tourism, our gaming industry, everything,” he said. “It is going to take somebody with the ability to identify with the community to help mitigate some of these future challenges we see.” 

Lucey said his base salary as commissioner is $100,000. Mora was paid a base salary of $285,000, plus $56,000 in other pay, according to Transparent Nevada.

As for his job as commissioner, he said he still hasn’t talked to the Washoe District Attorney’s Office about whether he could hold both positions but assumes he would have to step down.

“This has all developed in the last couple weeks,” he said. “I didn’t even know I’d be considered. So this is all relatively new.”

In addition to being a commissioner, Lucey also owns a veterinary clinic, but is not a veterinarian.

Anjeanette Damon is the government watchdog reporter for the RGJ. You can reach her at adamon@rgj.com or follow her on Twitter @AnjeanetteDamon. If you care about shining a bright light on decisions made by your elected officials, please consider subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.

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