FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2020
North and Eastside State Legislative Candidates Respond to Safe Skies Clean Water Questionnaire; Oppose F-35 Jets at Truax Field
Responding to a questionnaire from Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin, most candidates for the State Legislature in districts surrounding Dane County Airport are opposed to the stationing of F-35 fighter jets at the Truax Air National Guard base; will work to stop any construction until there is an Air Force plan to clean up the PFAS contamination; and, want to find a new mission for the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax other than training fighter jet pilots.
Of 21 candidates, 15 completed the questionnaire. Of these, 14 opposed the proposed fighter jets.
In the election to replace retiring Fred Risser in Senate District 26, Brian Benford, Nada Elmikashfi, Kelda Roys and John Imes are all opposed to stationing the jets in Madison; would work to stop construction; and, want to find a new mission for the Air National Guard at Truax Field.
Benford explained “I lobbied policy makers, I wrote published op-eds, spoke to news outlets, spoke at public forums, attended protests and will use this campaign for the Wisconsin state senate to continue my fight against the military congressional- industrial complex.”
“I was dismayed when I first learned about the F-35s placement earlier this year” recalled Elmikashfi. John Imes said “I support a revised mission and will work to encourage our Wisconsin congressional delegation in Washington D.C. to support cuts in military spending, including the F-35.”
Regarding a new mission, Roys stated: “Truax is situated in the middle of a residential area, only a few miles from downtown. Training fighter jet pilots is not congruent such a high density residential and urban location, especially given how much noisier the F35s are reported to be than F16s, and how much more frequently sorties may be flown. I will work with community leaders to urge Governor Evers to prioritize alternative uses for Truax Field that are less disruptive, create less pollution, and have fewer negative environmental and quality of life effects.”
In the 76th District race to replace Representative Chris Taylor, five candidates, Heather Driscoll, Francesca Hong, Nicki Vander Meuelen, Marsha Rummel and Ali Maresh, were opposed to stationing the jets in Madison; would work to stop construction; and want to find a new mission for the Air National Guard at Truax Field.
Regarding cleanup of the PFAS contamination prior to any construction at Truax Field, Rummel said: “The Department of Defense and the Air National Guard cannot safely and legally perform the planned construction activities without a complete site investigation that defines the extent and nature of PFAs contamination in soil and groundwater.” Hong agreed and said: “Until we can clean up the already existing contamination in the ground, there is more risk than benefit in starting construction at Truax.”
Regarding a new mission for the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field, Driscoll said: “I fully agree that it would be best for the Wisconsin National Guard to obtain a new mission that’s appropriate and compatible for our urban area and I would support efforts to push for it. It’s essential that they find a new mission that doesn’t put environmental and economic burdens on the communities of color living near the base.”
Vander Meuelen stated: “I would absolutely support a new mission for Truax Field. First off, the stationing of jets with nuclear weapon first strike capacity in Madison is completely unacceptable. Second, Madison is not the same city as when Traux was built. Our urban center is much closer and we have many more people living near Truax than similar facilities.”
While not clearly opposed to the jets, Tyrone Cratic Williams would support a halt to construction and finding a new mission. Dewey Bredeson said: “While as I do sympathize with your cause, I cannot say that I would make stopping the F-35s a top priority.” The eighth candidate in the race, Patrick Hull, did not respond.
In the contest to replace departing Senator Mark Miller in Assembly District 16, only Andrew McKinney replied to the questionnaire. Regarding the proposal to stop construction at Truax Field, he said: “I would like for an approved cleanup plan to stop pollution. Our low-income communities have been subjected to living with pollution because of the socio-economic barriers and disparities in association with these communities and the health outcomes that come with the inability to speak out and up for themselves.” The other two candidates, Melissa Sargent and Scott Barker, did not respond.
Four of the candidates in the race to replace Melissa Sargent in the northside 48th Assembly District, Samba Baldeh, Lindsay Lemmer, Walter Stewart, and Jason Vangalis, opposed the jets. Only Baldeh would work to halt construction, and only Stewart and Vangalis want to find a new mission for the 115th Fighter Wing.
Baldeh and Lemmer both supported a resolution against the F-35s as members of the Madison City Council. Walt Stewart said, “I signed the petition opposed to the F-35 jets” and Jason Vangalis “worked with residents in impacted fly zones to help identify local elected officials to reach out to and craft letters of concern.”
In response to the questionnaire results, Steven Klafka, a member of Safe Skies Clean Water, said: “The Air Force ignored local opposition and still plans to deploy a squadron of F-35 fighter jets to Madison by 2023. This will have a huge negative impact on the northside and eastside neighborhoods. We hope voters will consider the candidate positions on the proposed jets.”