NASHUA — Donald Davidson, the chairman of the Nashua Airport Authority, has unexpectedly stepped down from his post — three years before his term is set to expire.
“His last day was July 31,” Airport Director Stephen Bourque said on Monday. Bourque declined to elaborate on what led to Davidson’s departure, saying he was unsure whether to classify it as a resignation or retirement.
Davidson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. According to Bourque, Davidson is currently working in Alaska with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he serves as air operations branch director.
“He has been part of the airport since he was 14,” Bourque said of Davidson, who is now 75. “He started Davidson Flight Service here.”
In his resignation letter to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Davidson said he decided to “step down” from his position.
“I wish to thank you sincerely for your confidence in me over these past several years. I have been honored to once again have been of service to the people of the city of Nashua and the airport community,” Davidson said in the letter.
Davidson, a former pilot with Eastern Airlines, previously served as a Nashua alderman in the late 1970s and early 1980s — serving twice as the board’s president. Davidson was elected as mayor of the city in 1996, a post he held until 1999. A year later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and eventually became a member of the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition’s board of directors.
Lozeau is responsible for appointing members to the Nashua Airport Authority. Today, she is expected to appoint Sandra Adams of Scarborough Drive to the board, replacing the seat left vacant by Davidson. She is also recommending the reappointment of current board member Richard Moushegian of Tennyson Avenue.
“I don’t think there is a more well-known cheerleader for the airport,” Lozeau said of Davidson. “He has given an enormous amount of time and energy serving in that capacity.”
Lozeau said she is grateful for Davidson’s commitment and dedication to the airport.
“I think he had more on his plate than he thought he could manage,” she added.
The Board of Aldermen will review the new appointment and reappointment before officially confirming the nominations.
There have been significant changes at the Nashua Municipal Airport in the past year. In June 2013, former airport director Royce Rankin retired from the post he held for two decades. His retirement came just months after he worked to save the control tower during sequestration concerns and a temporary shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Since Bourque took over Rankin’s position, at least one city resident who has owned a T-hangar or utility hangar at the airport for nearly 30 years, Peter Vollheim, has voiced concern about the airport’s leadership.
“In the 38 years that I have been living in Nashua and flying out of its airport, I have never seen an Airport Authority so disconnected with the needs of the airport community,” Vollheim told the board in a written statement submitted earlier this year.
He claims the Airport Authority, and its manager, have pushed away new business and forced upon the airport users “proposed draconian rules and operating procedures.”
“ ... I have never seen morale as low — or anger as high — as it is now. This airport is simply not a welcome place to go to anymore,” Vollheim said.
Gordon Jackson, vice-chairman of the Nashua Airport Authority, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.