TRA Announces Interim Director to Replace Erik Gates

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Wielder Of the Skillet Of Harsh Discipline
TRF Supporter
Jan 19, 2009
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January 6, 2010

As most TRA members and those in the rocketry community are now aware, TRA Director Erik Gates passed away on December 20, 2009, from injuries sustained in a tragic accident. Since, like so many, the TRA Directors were shocked and deeply saddened by Erik’s loss - and we will truly miss his presence among us – we have found it unpleasant to have to consider the matter of filling Erik’s vacant seat. However, it is the responsibility of the Board to assure continuity of leadership, in accordance with the TRA Bylaws.

The TRA Board has never had to fill a vacancy created by the death of a director before, thus the provision in the bylaws addressing a vacancy is not familiar to most. Here is the appropriate citation:

SECTION 4. VACANCIES. A vacancy occurring on the board of directors or a directorship to be filled by reason of an increase in the number of directors may be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors at the next regular or special meeting of the board of directors. The temporary director shall serve until the next regular meeting of the membership, at which time a new director shall be elected to fill the unexpired term of the vacated office or the newly created opening. Candidates shall be nominated from the floor and voted upon at the same meeting. No mail-in ballots will be utilized to fill temporary vacancies on the board of directors.


As can be seen, the Board may appoint a temporary director, by normal majority vote. The term of the temporary director is to last until the next membership meeting, at which point nominations and the majority vote of the members present would elect a director to fill the remainder of the unexpired term associated with the vacant seat. However in this case, the next membership meeting, scheduled for LDRS 29, in June 2010, actually coincides with when Erik’s term would have normally expired (Erik’s seat was up for re-election in 2010, and it appeared he planned to run in that election to retain his seat). Thus, there would be no “unexpired term of the vacated office” for the members to vote on at LDRS 29.

Accordingly, the TRA Board determined that a temporary director would be appointed to fill the remainder of Erik Gates’ director term, lasting until LDRS 29, at which point the position would expire. This seat will then be subject to being filled by the 2010 TRA Board of Directors election, as it would normally have been even if Erik were still with us. Any temporary director affirmed by the Board will of course be free to run in the 2010 election, if he/she so chooses.

The TRA Board gave serious consideration to who should be selected for this temporary position, and a short list of names was evaluated. It was considered important that the individual should be in tune with the workings of TRA and current issues, especially since an important meeting had already been scheduled for January 8-10, 2010 to work on several much-needed revisions to the TRA Bylaws. With this in mind, the person nominated, and affirmed by unanimous vote on December 28, 2009, is former director and vice-president, Pat Gordzelik.

As most should recall, Pat retained important duties even after stepping down from the Board last year, including being our primary insurance liaison, as well as one of our FAA liaisons, and was very much engaged in previous discussions on the areas of the bylaws which will require revisions. Pat’s extensive experience as one of TRA’s key leaders and his current understanding of the issues at hand made his selection a natural one. Additionally, it seemed fitting that having to move decisively to fill Erik’s vacant seat, we should select a person well-respected by TRA, including Erik himself. I am sure he would be pleased with our choice.

So we welcome Pat back to the Board in the role of temporary director, even though the need to make this happen is accompanied by the sadness we all feel. Pat will assist us in carrying on the important work we face in the months ahead. That too, would be very much what Erik would have preferred.

Ken Good
TRA President
An excellent choice. Pat has the experience and know how to get the job done.