As a Blaine resident, member of the Metropolitan Airports Commission and former state representative who might consider another run for political office, Andy Westerberg knows he can't stay completely under the radar with the latest Anoka County-Blaine Airport runway controversy.
But he'd like to avoid any turbulence.
Westerberg, who served four terms in the House before making a failed run for an Anoka County commissioner's seat in 2006, was appointed to the MAC by Gov. Tim Pawlenty two years ago. A longtime insurance agent, Westerberg recently talked about the Blaine airport's future, as well as his own.
Q As a Blaine resident and MAC commissioner, are you caught in the middle of controversy over proposed expansion of the Anoka County-Blaine Airport runway?
A The expansion of the runway was not something the MAC was looking for. It was a tenant [Key Air]. From time to time, tenants want change. You have to look at this from multiple points of view. The MAC position is to help promote aviation, and try to do that in a way beneficial for the community. At the same time, I'm fairly visible in this community and people share information with me -- their hopes and fears. I really enjoy that part of it, being able to hear all sides of the issue. We want to make this work for everybody.
Q Anoka County has poured millions of dollars into refurbishing this reliever airport. Many of the enhancements were done before last year's Republican National Convention. What are future improvements that the general public can embrace?
A We're looking at possibly developing an event center at the Anoka airport, possibly with a cafe or restaurant and a gift shop. The Wings Museum, I think, will be relocating, to be in a better position to attract people.
We want to help youth understand aviation. We want to get them involved, maybe set up field trips. We don't want people thinking that this airport is for a bunch of rich kids who have airplanes.
Q What do you like best about being a MAC commissioner?
A I have a love of aviation. I'm interested in transportation issues, homeland security. I think they all tie together.
I think we can help create jobs. We need to do a better job of helping the public understand the benefits of airports. Without that airport in Blaine, products and services would cost more. It's another option for moving medical supplies. The people who own small planes aren't the only ones who benefit.
Q Are you interested in again running for political office?
A I've thought about it. This [MAC position] has been a different ball game and a whole new learning curve. It's interesting. I like learning new things and I like being a problem solver.
Politics will take every second you have, and the MAC will do the same thing. It's very demanding as far as hours.
Q Have you thought about running for county commissioner again?
A I haven't made that decision yet.
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419