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Statewide support is rapidly building for Luke Air Force Base and the new F-35 training mission since Gov. Jan Brewer and West Valley mayors launched the Luke Forward campaign. When government and business leaders kicked off the campaign in October to help inform residents of the positive impacts the Air Force’s next-generation strike fighter will bring to Arizona, they had set a goal of having  5,000 registered supporters by the end of the year. Within weeks of launching the campaign that goal had been surpassed.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs of the more than 11,000 registered supporters the campaign has received thus far.

“We know there are a lot of Luke supporters throughout the state, and this campaign is providing them an opportunity to show that support. We are encouraging people to continue registering their support as there is still a  lot of work to be done.”

Fighter Country Partnership Chairman Charley Freericks, who is co-chairing Luke Forward with Scruggs, agrees. “It’s important the state and communities surrounding Luke send a strong message to the Department of  Defense that Arizona wants Luke to continue to serve as the country’s premier fighter pilot training facility,” he said.

Since the launch of Luke Forward, campaign organizers have been busy keeping its Web site updated with new information, participating in community events and reaching out to business and citizen groups.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, East Valley Partnership and Valley Partnership are some of the business groups that have received presentations on Luke and the F-35.

Presentations have also been made to citizens groups in such communities as Surprise and Sun City West. In addition, Luke Forward representatives have staffed informational tables at events in Glendale and Goodyear.

“The feedback from business leaders and citizens has been extremely positive,” said Jerry McCoy, deputy director of marketing/communications for the city of Glendale, who is helping with the Luke Forward campaign. “We had 300 people show up for a meeting in Surprise and another 250 people for a presentation in Sun City West. Everyone attending these meetings wants to know what they can do to help us in this effort.”

With the recent announcement that Luke is one of five bases nationwide being considered to receive the new F-35 mission, it is anticipated the Air Force will soon begin holding public “scoping” meetings in advance of its  Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process at Luke and the other candidate bases. Both the scoping meetings and the eventual EIS process will allow citizens and communities around the candidate bases to provide input during the formal assessment of each base. Based on the results of the EIS, the Air Force is expected to announce its F-35 preferred basing locations in late spring 2010 with the release of its draft EIS.

Once that process is completed, the Air Force will issue its “record of decision” and announce its final basing decision. This announcement is anticipated to be made in early 2011.
The Luke Forward campaign was developed by the West Valley Partners and Fighter Country Partnership. The West Valley Partners include Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, Gila Bend, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Maricopa County, Peoria, Phoenix, Surprise, Tolleson, Wickenburg, and Youngtown.

Post updated 6 Feb 2020

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