Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner of District 2 presented a resolution to the county board urging her fellow supervisors to officially oppose the force beddown of F-35s at Traux Field Thursday night.
The resolution calls for the board to resist the project and direct the county’s legal department to advise it of all possible strategies for blocking the Air Force plans. Wegleitner invites other supervisors to sponsor the resolution.
Michele Ritt, District 18, Paul Rusk, District 12, Yogesh Chawla, District 6, as well as Richard Kilmer, District 4, have already co-sponsored the bill.
“Our position would be communicated to our senators who have a lot of influence over this decision as well as other elected officials as well as the Air Force officials responsible for making the decision,” Wegleitner said. “It would also request legal opinion from Corporation Counsel on our authority in trying to prevent this proposed action.”
The resolution comes after the United States Air Force released a final Environmental Impact Statement last month. The study highlighted potential environmental impacts and confirmed the noise created by an F-35 would disproportionately affect low-income communities, families and people of color. The Air Force is expected to issue a final decision regarding the base later this month.
If the resolution passes, the county’s Corporation Counsel would be called upon to prepare a statement for the Dane County Board on all potential legal strategies for preventing the F-35s from coming to Traux Field, as well as mitigating the impact of the planes.
Supervisors raised concerns in the resolution about the residents who would be affected by the increased noise levels and also highlighted environmental concerns, including contaminants known as PFAS.
Supervisor Chawla, a member of the Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, is co-sponsoring the resolution in hopes of limiting to negative impacts on public health.
“One of our top priorities in County government is to ensure that our neighbors have clean drinking water and to ensure that we are not supporting projects that could have potentially life-threatening health consequences to the most vulnerable people in our community,” she stated.
Even if the decision is still made to locate the F-35 squadron in Madison, Wegleitner hopes the resolution will educate other members of the county board on the consequences of the F-35s, as well as bring the board together in a unified effort to limit the potential effects.
“If the squadron does come here, we want to mitigate the harms that we have been advised of in the Environmental Impact Statement,” she said.