Photo Credit: James Willamor, via Flickr. Licensed CC.
Photo Credit: James Willamor, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — City Council has appointed four local residents to serve on the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Commission, the regional body created to oversee the airport’s operations. Among the appointments is former Charlotte City Manager Pam Syfert, who was instrumental in blocking same-sex domestic partner benefits for city employees during her tenure 10 years ago.

Syfert served as city manager for 11 years before stepping down in 2007. From 2003-2005, Syfert engaged with LGBT community members and city employees on the need for domestic partner benefits, but ultimately decided against offering the new protections in a memo to City Council in March 2004.

At the time, then-Mayor Pat McCrory sided with Syfert’s decision, saying the additional benefits “would cost too much and cut against what most Charlotteans want,” according to a Charlotte Observer report.

“It’s both a policy issue and a budgetary issue, and there’s no rationale for either one,” McCrory said at the time.

The city has since adopted domestic partner benefits. The healthcare and other protections for LGBT employees and their families were included in former City Manager Curt Walton’s budget approved by Council last June.

Airport employees currently have access to the city benefits, but that could change if the new airport commission receives final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. If approved, current city aviation employees would become employees of the new commission, which will be allowed to set its own personnel policies, according to legislation establishing the commission.

Other Council appointees included Bank of America employee and current Airport Advisory Committee member Pamela Bennett, attorney Anthony Fox and former North Carolina Chamber of Commerce Chairman Robert Stolz.

Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey is expected to make her three appointments to the commission by Oct. 1. The city says it is simply fulfilling its legal obligations to make the appointments. The city has sued to block any transfer of airport ownership, oversight and control.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.