McDonnell appoints two to airports board

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley
Gov. Bob McDonnell took advantage of legislation just passed by Congress to appoint two campaign contributors from Northern Virginia to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board, his office announced this morning.

A recent law packaged as part of must-pass funding bill gives the Virginia governor two extra seats on the airports authority board, which is in charge of the $6 billion Dulles Metro rail project. It also gives one extra seat each to Maryland and the District.

McDonnell appointed Caren Merrick, a Republican who recently lost a state Senate race to Democrat Barbara Favola in Northern Virginia's 31st District, and Todd Stottlemyer, chief executive officer of management firm Acentia.

The overhaul of the board comes after local leaders complained earlier this year that the airports authority wasn't listening to Virginia's concerns about the ballooning cost of the Dulles Rail project.

Both appointees have given thousands of dollars to McDonnell's campaigns in the past, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Merrick said she would be a "strong voice for the commonwealth" on the board and push to ensure that the rail project's cost don't force massive increases for drivers on the Dulles Toll Road, which some estimates showed could hit $20 in just a few years.

"Whatever the solution is, we have to involve all of the stakeholders, and I'm also very keen to look at how we generate revenue without these really high tolls," she said.

Maryland and the District of Columbia have yet to appoint their new members.

Virginia won a greater share of power on the airports authority thanks to legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., that also allows current board members to be replaced "for cause" and forces governors to immediately replace members whose terms expire.

Local leaders complained earlier this fall that the legislation gave Virginia too much power and was "anti-regional."

MWAA board member Mame Reiley called the bill a form of legislative "intimidation."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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