Two local businessmen have been appointed to the Roswell City Airport Advisory Board to fill vacancies on the five-member panel.
Jon Hitchcock and OE “Bud” Kunkel were recommended to City Council by Mayor Timothy Z. Jennings, with the nominations confirmed 7-1 at Thursday’s Roswell City Council meeting.
Councilors Jason Perry and Savino Sanchez were absent for that part of the meeting, while Jeanine Corn Best cast the dissenting vote.
Hitchcock is the retired CEO and chairman of Pioneer Bank who continues to serve as chairman of the bank’s board.
As Jennings explained, Hitchcock was instrumental in the negotiations that brought American Airlines service to Roswell in 2007, when the airline began providing routes to and from Dallas-Fort Worth. The airline added service to and from Phoenix in March 2016.
A private pilot, Hitchcock is involved in Civil Air Patrol and other aviation-related groups. He was a member of the Airports Task Force of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. who worked with state lawmakers from 2017 to 2019 to enact legislation allowing former military airbases in New Mexico to be part of special economic districts governed by their own councils. . The legislation was signed into law in 2019, but the city and county have so far decided against creating a separate airport authority.
Hitchcock was also a member of the RCCEDC Board of Directors.
Kunkel is a retired real estate appraiser who ran his own business in the area for many years. He was also active in the RCCEDC and was a member of its board of directors and a member of the airport task force.
Kunkel was one of the original members of the Airport Advisory Board when it was established in 2018, but announced at its November 2020 meeting that he was leaving the group and would not be submitting a letter of resignation. resignation. His decision follows disagreements with other members and city officials, including former mayor Dennis Kintigh, over past Air Center decisions.
Councilor Best said she wanted to explain why she opposed both Hitchcock and Kunkel as members of the commission.
Of Kunkel, she said, “I’m not sure that’s the kind of person I want on one of our committees, who gets up and walks away because he’s frustrated with what’s going on. is happening,” she said.
Best said Hitchcock is a tenant at Roswell Air Center, leasing part of one of the T-hangars for private planes, and that she “is not comfortable with him having a hangar. in T and that he sits on the advisory committee”.
Hitchcock and Kunkel fill the positions left vacant when Kintigh and local lawyer Amy Coll resigned following the 2022 civic officer election in March that resulted in Jennings’ election.
Other members of the commission currently include Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. President Mike Espiritu, Eastern New Mexico University President Shawn Powell, and Director at American Airlines retiree Matt McDonald.