SHELDON—Rob Dixon questioned the Sheldon City Council on why it was forcing a longtime member of the Sheldon Regional Airport Commission to abdicate his position.
At the Wednesday, Aug. 7, meeting, the council was set to appoint Kellie Einck, a licensed pilot from Primghar, to the commission to replace Skip Tanner, who has served as chair of the committee as recently as June.
“Skip is willing to continue to serve and has served for many years and is quite a resource for us on the airport commission with his years of service and knowledge,” said Dixon, who also serves on the commission.
Based on conversations he has had with members of the council and mayor Greg Geels, Dixon said Einck’s potential appointment was only being made for the sake of diversity.
“We’re appointing Kellie Einck so we can diversify our airport commission and that’s an inappropriate prerequisite,” Dixon said.
“Giving that — diversity — a priority is inappropriate in light of the gentleman Skip’s knowledge and experience with the airport commission.”
Dixon also took exception to the fact that Einck does not live in Sheldon.
“Nothing against Kellie, but she’s not a local,” he said. “She has no experience with the Sheldon airport and the airport commission and to appoint her and not reappoint Skip who has many years of good and valuable experience on the commission and for the commission and for the city; not a wise or appropriate step by the council to appoint Kellie for those reasons.”
Dixon followed up by noting he is not against diversity.
“Diversity is a good thing, certainly, but it should not take priority over this wealth of experience in this case,” he said.
Following Dixon’s comments, Marv Van Riesen of Sheldon chimed in.
He noted he and Peter W. Wagner, publisher and founder of Iowa Information, which publishes The Mail-Sun, also were forced off the Crossroads Pavilion Board of Directors for diversity reasons.
Van Riesen and Wagner, who said they were willing to stay on the board, were replaced by Erin Anderson and Mary Wallinga in July.
“We agreed to stay on,” Van Riesen said.
Van Riesen, who is an outspoken critic of the council, also views his removal from the board as political retaliation and said he was offended by the action.
“This diversity thing, that’s all fine and I have nothing against women on the board,” he said. “But why would you throw somebody like Skip Tanner off the airport board who has served many years? Now, you’ve found yourself in a dilemma.”
Councilman Brad Hindt acknowledged the council did gender balance the Pavilion board but said in the interest of fairness it should be done to all the city’s boards and commissions.
“But let’s not make gender balance our primary criteria,” Dixon said.
The council tabled the discussion on Einck’s appointment until the Aug. 21 meeting so that Geels may be part of the conversation.
Geels made the recommendation to the council to appoint Einck but was late to last Aug. 7 meeting after having car trouble while out of town.