NEW EL MIRAGE CITY COUNCIL STRONGLY SUPPORTS LUKE AFB, F-35 MISSION

EL MIRAGE, AZ (February 22, 2011): Tuesday, February 22, 2011 marks a turning point in the relationship between the City of El Mirage and its neighboring West Valley cities, along with a meaningful change in the City’s level of support for Luke Air Force Base. At a meeting earlier today, the City of El Mirage was officially welcomed back into to the West Valley Partners. “We are pleased to be able to demonstrate our support for Luke and once again be a part of the West Valley Partners,” stated Mayor Lana Mook. The West Valley Partners is a coalition of West Valley cities and Maricopa County, organized to preserve the long-term viability of Luke AFB. Through this coalition, member cities have created a strong state and national-level lobbying presence advocating for issues of importance to Luke. In recent years, many officials within the City of El Mirage gained notoriety and ostracism in the West Valley for taking an antagonistic position toward Luke AFB and its related missions, including the proposed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet. After city officials traveled to Washington, D.C. seeking $400 million from the federal government as compensation for perceived economic harm to the small West Valley community and voiced strong opposition to the proposed F-35, West Valley Partners politely requested El Mirage depart the group and stand alone in its position. In 2009 and 2010, a large group of El Mirage residents became increasingly alarmed at the City’s stance on Luke and the subsequent negative perception of their community. They formed an activist group known as the People of El Mirage (POEM) to demonstrate strong support for the base and its personnel, many of whom reside in El Mirage. Five members of that group went on to run for city council and ended up taking over all five of the seats up for election. “We believed strongly the position the Council was taking was not reflective of how our community truly felt,” said newly-elected Mayor Lana Mook. “The vast majority of us supported Luke AFB and didn’t understand why this wasn’t being reflected in the public.” On December 9, 2010 this new leadership was officially sworn-in to office and council members immediately began reaching out to Luke AFB officials and leaders from neighboring West Valley cities to begin repairing relationships. As a part of this concerted effort, the new Council extended an invitation to Brigadier General Jerry D. Harris, Commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, to come and speak to the Council. General Harris is scheduled to present a current mission overview on Luke AFB to the Council this Thursday, February 24, 2011. In anticipation of his visit, the El Mirage City Council voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution supporting Luke AFB and the proposed F-35 mission. They plan on presenting the General with this resolution, along with an official City Coin commemorating the 60th Anniversary of El Mirage, at the February 24th Council meeting. Mayor Mook emphasized the City’s new position and efforts. “Let there be no doubt – this City Council recognizes the importance of Luke AFB to our nation, to our state, and to the City of El Mirage.” She added “We also recognize the importance of rebuilding positive relationships with our neighboring cities and being a contributing member of the West Valley team. Demonstrating support for Luke and rejoining West Valley Partners is a big step in the right direction for El Mirage.” Click here to read the resolution.