The appointment of members to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission, once a routine task for the Dukes County Commission, has become steeped in controversy.

Against a backdrop of legal conflicts between the county and the airport’s governing body, three seats opened up this year on the seven-member airport commission.

As of Wednesday, county commissioners had interviewed three of six candidates. The commission plans to finish remaining interviews and make the appointments next Wednesday.

But the selection process has been progressing in the shadow of legal action brought by the airport, which has sought to defend its autonomy from the county for more than a decade and is paying close attention to the current appointments.

"To wait one more day to straighten out the airport commission is everything that I'm against," said county commissioner David Holway. — Mark Lovewell

Last May, the airport commission filed a complaint against the county in an effort to gain further legal recognition of its independence. In the fall, the airport was back in court to block the county commission from expanding the size of the airport commission, claiming the move was another attempt to interfere.

The current appointments before the county are more routine; the terms of three airport commissioners are expiring and two are seeking reappointment.

But the airport has continued to raise concerns about the county’s process.

In a five-page letter dated Feb. 5, an attorney working for an airport subcommittee formed to address matters of litigation, warned the county to tread with caution.

“The [airport commission] is not a mere department or subsidiary of Dukes County. The Dukes County Commission is not empowered to replace airport commissioners at will, and has no general supervisory or oversight power over [the airport commission],” wrote David S. Mackey, an attorney with the Cambridge law firm Anderson Kreiger.

In the letter Mr. Mackey urged the county to reject candidates with conflicts of interest and “consider the reappointment of MVAC commissioners with aviation or other relevant experience who wish to continue to serve.” According to the letter, incumbent commissioners have already been told they will not be reappointed.

“This decision reflects a continuation of the county’s attempts to interfere with the airport, this time by sweeping out all the incumbents whose terms expire, and replacing them with appointees who will do the county’s bidding,” Mr. Mackey wrote.

The six applicants include incumbents Constance Teixeira and James Coyne, as well as Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd, whose moving company rents space at the airport, John Cahill, who operates a rental car agency at the airport, and Myron Garfinkle and Robert H. Rosenbaum, who are both pilots.

As of Wednesday, the county had completed three interviews for the position.

In all three, the letter from Mr. Mackey and the ongoing litigation between the two agencies have shared center stage.

Interviews began last week with Mr. Coyne, who has served six years and is seeking a third term. In his interview, conducted via Skype, county commissioners asked about the decision to form the litigation subcommittee, and the vote to sue the county, according to minutes. Commissioners also questioned Mr. Coyne about legal spending at the airport.

In two more interviews conducted on Wednesday this week, candidates Robert Rosenbaum and John Cahill were asked if they had a financial interest in any business at the airport.

Mr. Cahill, who is an agent of the Hertz rental car corporation, said he was not involved in contractual negotiations between his employer and the airport. He and Mr. Rosenbaum both said they had consulted with the state ethics commission and learned they are eligible to serve on the airport board.

Both said they were familiar with some of the issues at the airport, but focused on the ways they could improve the atmosphere there.

County commissioners, meanwhile, made no effort to conceal their frustration with the airport.

“I have been on this commission for a very short time and the biggest headache I have had is our interaction with the airport,” said county commissioner David Holway. “To wait one more day to straighten out the airport commission is everything that I am against.”

He suggested that the commission vote to make the appointments right away.

Commissioner John Alley disagreed, and said Mr. Holway was “relatively insensitive” to suggest a vote without the final interviews.

At least two of the three remaining candidates could not make it to Wednesday’s meeting due to medical reasons.

County commissioner Tristan Israel said he was inclined to tie things up right away, but due to an “overt threat of litigation” and there being medical emergencies, he said he would opt to wait.

“We want to make sure we do as best we can, and cross our t’s and dot our i’s,” Mr. Israel said.

Ultimately, members of the commission came to a consensus and said they would hear from the other candidates next week.

Trip Barnes and Myron Garfinkle are expected to appear for interviews, as well as Constance Teixeira, who has been an airport commissioner since 2006 and is the current chairman.

If recent patterns continue, the subject of litigation is sure to resurface.

“In my entire governmental life, which stretches back 45 years, I have never seen such a travesty and such wasted money in all those years,” said Mr. Holway.

“Amen, brother,” Mr. Israel said.