Burlington voters don't want F-35s based at airport

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington voters sent a strong message about F-35s this Town Meeting Day. The majority of Burlington voters do not want the F-35s stationed at the Burlington International Airport; 55 percent voted it down.

Opponents of the fighter jets got nearly 3,000 people to sign a petition to get a nonbinding question on the ballot. Now that it has passed, they hope the vote will encourage city leaders to take a stand against bringing the jets here and will urge the U.S. Air Force to bring a quieter aircraft to the airport.

"This is a huge victory for the people of Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, and all of the other towns around the airport," said James Marc Leas of Save Our Skies Burlington.

But supporters of the F-35s claimed the ballot question was deceptive and caused confusion at the polls.

"They knew that they could not get it across the goal line with just asking the voters to take away the F-35 because that is not what this community wants," said Nicole Citro of Green Ribbons for F-35.

Regardless of the results, the Vermont National Guard says the F-35 fighter jets are expected to land by next fall.

In a statement, Vt. National Guard 1st Lt. Mike Arcovitch said, "Transparency and communication with the public are critical for our success, and we will continue to update Vermonters as our progress continues with our transition to the F35. There is a lot of work to be done, and rest assured the Vermont Air National Guard will be ready when the F35 arrives in the fall of 2019. We are proud to serve Vermonters and excited to receive the F35."