DANVERS — Not long after settling a federal lawsuit with the Beverly Regional Airport Commission, Mark Zuberek sought to fill a vacancy in the very group that had banned him from the airport. But Danvers selectmen said no.
Earlier this month, selectmen passed over Zuberek, a former town selectman, when it came time to recommend a Danvers resident to fill a vacancy on the eight-person commission. Zuberek sued the commission earlier this year after he was banned from the airport shortly after attending one of its meetings last fall. His suit claimed it was a violation of his civil rights.
"I'll be blunt, I can't support your application," Selectman Gardner Trask told Zuberek during the Nov. 19 meeting. "You have a history of actions ... that lead me to believe that you don't support my views as a selectman. Recent activities at the airport, I'll also solidify that, and I can't see that you would be a collaborative influence on the board."
Three people had applied for the post, and selectmen voted 4-0 to recommend Matthew Mozur, a 32-year resident and licensed pilot, to the city of Beverly, which actually appoints the commission members. Danvers has two seats on the commission, with the rest held by Beverly residents.
The vacancy was created when former commissioner Tracy Wadsworth moved from town, according to Trask.
Zuberek, in an interview, said he felt the outcome was predetermined.
"The town manager and Town Hall did not want me on there because I'm an activist," Zuberek said on Monday. "Danvers residents deserve someone who will look out for them."
Trask disputed that assertion.
"There was no discussion among the board (selectmen) before the meeting," said Trask, who is also a former airport commissioner, "and I think we all made our decisions independently." He said he based his vote on Zuberek's history with the airport.
Zuberek, who hosts a local cable TV show, "Topics of the Town News," and serves as a Precinct 7 Town Meeting member, recently settled a lawsuit that he filed in April with the city of Beverly that said he was unfairly banned from the airport.
In February, Zuberek also filed a state open meeting law complaint with the Attorney General's office, alleging the commission had violated the law by denying him access to its meetings.
Zuberek, in an interview, declined further comment on the settlement. He did not bring it up when seeking a spot on the commission.
He described himself as a "qualified and informed resident" who could help improve relations between the neighboring communities and within the commission.
He also cited his 30-year involvement with the town and his background as a civil engineer who has worked on international airport projects, including as a construction manager on the rebuilding of International Terminal E at Logan Airport.
At the Nov. 19 meeting, selectmen listened to all three applicants: Zuberek, Mozur and Judy Marz.
"It's just something that I would like to do," said Marz, "and since I have been in travel my whole life, I feel this would be something that would fill up my retirement years, and I think I would be good on that."
Mozur, an electrical engineer, said he was interested in working with the airport commission as a licensed pilot who owns an airplane, which is based at Lawrence Municipal Airport.
"My particular interests are in maintaining fair access for all the different aviation communities and businesses," he said, "trying to keep up the efforts to be a good neighbor, and I know airports generate noise and other concerns, so I think they have made a lot of positive steps, but there is always room for improvement."
Mozur has also served on the town's Historic District Commission since about 2001.
Selectmen Chairman Dan Bennett thanked all three applicants and asked for a motion. Trask nominated Mozur, and the vote was 4-0 in favor, with Selectman Diane Langlais absent that night.
Zuberek's federal lawsuit claimed his First Amendment free speech and freedom of assembly rights were violated, and that he was "singled out and prevented from attending a (commission) meeting that was open to every other member of the public."
The lawsuit said he was threatened with arrest if he returned to the airport, and was distressed when his name and photo were posted "with a message that conveys that he is dangerous or otherwise casts aspersions about him."
Zuberek had claimed the airport commission, airport manager Gloria Bouillon and the airport's owner, the city of Beverly, violated his civil rights by permanently banning him from the airport.
The airport commission had issued a no-trespass order a little over a year ago stating Zuberek made repeated attempts to gain access to secure areas of the airport, a claim the lawsuit said was false.
Zuberek acknowledged he approached a fence separating a parking lot from airport buildings, runways and taxiing areas on one occasion, but said he did not cross the fence and denied ever trying to reach secure areas to film them.
In July, the Attorney General's Division of Open Government ruled that the commission had violated the Open Meeting Law. In the ruling, Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Carnes Flynn said the commission "made no showing of a specific, articulable threat to public safety should (Zuberek) be allowed to attend the commission's public meetings."
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.