Former Alder Shares Concern with Racial Disparities, Urges Opposition to F-35s

I hope that this note finds you all well and safe during these uncertain times.

I am writing you today about the F-35 resolution that the Madison Common Council will take up tonight. When I was on the Council, I remember many issues that came up that other alders (or some in the community) saw as out of our jurisdiction. Whether it was deemed a county, state or federal issue, some of my colleagues would suggest that it was a waste of time and effort to pass resolutions that might be perceived as symbolic.

During my service, I always held the view that far too many of our constituents could not pick up the phone and call Tammy Baldwin or Mark Pocan directly and have a chance to voice their opinions on issues critical to them. Maybe a few of you have this access to these two, but most of us don’t. It doesn’t matter, on this issue, they have been ineffective to say the least.

While I detest the environmental detriments caused by years of reckless PFAS use at Truax by the military and others, or the certain increase noise pollution that these weapons will bring, or the clamor for perceived economic gains over the lives of marginalized people and children, I am most concerned about the horrendous social justice assault on marginalized communities of color. It would be redundant of me to remind each of you that in the City of Madison, there are insidious racial disparities. In our schools, within our courts, in our neighborhoods, people of color living in Madison have endured years of inaction and platitude in addressing these atrocious racial disparities.

Opposing the F-35s, knowing the potential for the environmental and increase noise risks that the Air Force’s own EIS report offers will impact vulnerable, marginalized communities would signal that we as a collective community, believes in everybody’s right to reach their full potentials here in the City of Madison. I believe that strongly opposing the siting of F-35s gives countless of us working on the front-lines to eliminate racial disparities in Madison- hope. How can we as a community tolerate any real or perceived threat of adding another racial disparity? In addition, at a cost of around 90 million dollars per weapon, with the need for life saving equipment, (not to mention peoples basic needs) during this pandemic, how can we as a city, signal to the world that we are more concern about potential economic gains or losses over peoples livelihoods and well-being?

This brings me back to my opening, I feel that in Madison, alder-people and the Mayor are our first line of democracy. While none of them have the power to tell the Air Force or the Federal government what to do, they could provide a principled voice for all of us that oppose these weapons. After the Air Force makes its decision, either to place the jets here or not, I believe that people will deeply appreciate those that advocated against these weapons and hold accountable those that favored political capital over the rights of others.

Tonight the Madison Common Council takes up a resolution opposing the placing of the F35 weapons in Madison.  
Please take the time to write the alders and voice your opinions about these weapons.   

Best wishes and care,

Brian Benford 
Former Madison Alder