VA: Mallon Resigns from Newport News Airport Board; Jay Joseph to Take His Place

Feb. 15–One of the six members of the Peninsula Airport Commission has stepped down from his seat after 16 years of service.

Stephen M. Mallon — one of two airport board members appointed by the Hampton City Council — wrote to Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck on Jan. 25 saying he was resigning effective Jan. 31.

The Hampton council on Wednesday appointed James R. "Jay" Joseph to take Mallon’s place.

Joseph has recently served as chairman of the Hampton Economic Development Authority and is currently one of the Hampton representatives on the Fort Monroe Authority. He’s the brother of former Hampton Mayor and current City Treasurer Molly Joseph Ward.

Joseph could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Mallon, 61, of Hampton, was first appointed to the Peninsula Airport Commission in 2002. He’s also director and executive vice president at Craig Davis Properties, a local commercial real estate firm.

In his letter to Tuck, Mallon brought up the fact that the airport board "was able to negotiate a settlement" with TowneBank and the Jones Blechman Woltz and Kelly law firm over a $5 million line of credit to People Express Airlines in 2014. The parties had been disputing for months whether the bank and law firm should reimburse the airport for any of the $4.5 million in taxpayer money used to cover the loan when the airline defaulted.

The parties hammered out an agreement in December in which the bank and law firm would jointly pay the airport $2 million of the disputed $4.5 million. The deal means the three sides won’t be going to court over the issue — a possibility that had hung over negotiations for months. The deal includes $1.65 million in cash and a $350,000 reduction in future interest payments on a bank-issued bond.

"The PAC was able to negotiate a settlement to return a significant portion of the (state grant funds) that were inappropriately used for the startup of People Express Airlines," Mallon wrote in the letter. "Reaching a satisfactory settlement with the parties involved in the unauthorized use of these funds was a goal of my continued participation on the PAC."

Because of the settlement, Mallon added, the Virginia secretary of transportation has authorized that the state resume grants to the airport. "With this goal achieved, I believe the timing to be right for me to step down from the Commission," Mallon wrote. "Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve our community."

Mallon was traveling in Germany this week and could not be reached for comment.

The Hampton City Council first appointed Mallon to the airport board in 2002. After an initial three-year term, he was reappointed to four-year terms in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

"Steve was a wealth of information on almost all things airport-related," to include real estate deals and financial transactions, said James S. McNider III, the airport’s acting attorney. "He had a good grasp on a lot of the background, and was a real big contributor on the board." As the new lawyer representing the airport, McNider said he "was always able to consult with Commissioner Mallon to get a historic perspective."

Mallon also wasn’t afraid to question actions by airport management. "He’s continuously been a leader in asking questions and taking actions that he felt were in the best interest of the airport," the lawyer said.

The airport’s new executive director, Michael Giardino, who began at the airport in November, said he appreciated working with Mallon, calling him "very supportive during our time together."

"I am very grateful that I got a chance to work with Steve," Giardino said. "He added continuity if you will to all dealings at the airport over time. He had a lot of experience both on the commission and in the community, and went through some good times and bad times at the airport. Since we had turnover on the commission, with his experience, he was a level-head."

Mallon knew, Giardino said, "that it’s a very volatile industry" and that it’s best "not just to react" to every change in market condition.

George Wallace, the former Hampton mayor and chairman of the Peninsula Airport Commission, could not immediately be reached.

In June 2014 — when the airport board voted to allow then chairwoman LaDonna Finch to negotiate a deal for new air service on the People Express deal — Mallon abstained from the vote, airport records show. "He was the only one of those attending who didn’t vote in favor or the PEX guarantee," McNider said of the authorization that passed 3-0.

The airport commission — which has operated for years with four members from Newport News and two from Hampton — will soon jump to nine members. That’s because James City County, Williamsburg and York County will soon each have a seat on the board going forward.

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Dujardin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4749

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