Four candidates faced their final interview for the Vermont National Guard's top job Thursday night, pitching themselves to the House committee on military affairs.
The candidates: retired Army Colonel Mike Bullock of Hinesburg, current Air Guard Brigadier General Steven Cray of Essex Junction, Col. Darryl Ducharme of Williston, and the new comer civilian James Leas were questioned on topics from sexual assault in the military, to helping guard families, to the controversial F-35.
"It's an investment in Vermont for the next 30 years," said Cray. "It's critical to the airport and to the economics that surround it, it's critical to the businesses."
The Air Force is set to make its decision this spring whether the new fighter jet will land here. Ducharme and Cray, both who have current roles in the Guard, fear that losing the F-35 jets could mean cuts to the Guard's staffing and funding in the future.
"If we cannot find an alternate mission for them," warned Ducharme, "the air wing brings about $73 million in federal money to the state and it will have an impact on the communities and neighborhoods that we have," he said.
But Bullock, who is a retired Army Colonel said he would need to investigate further.
"I would encourage an establishment of a commission with stakeholders internal and external to the guard to discuss these issues," Bullock stated to the committee.
But the one civilian candidate and activist, James Leas, has been outspoken against F-35s and war in the past. He said he would try to stop the jets from coming to Vermont if he were in charge of the Guard.
"The F-35 jets will cause nearly 3,000 homes and 7,000 people to be in a noise zone that the Air Force and the FAA say is generally not considered suitable for residential use," Leas said.
Lawmakers are set to vote on the position next Thursday.
Friday, December 6 2013 11:05 AM EST2013-12-06 16:05:53 GMT
Vermont police have charged a Vernon man for a car crash back in June that killed his passenger.Police say Edward Class, 20, crossed the center line on Route 142 in Vernon and collided with an oncomingMore >>
Vermont police have charged a Vernon man for a car crash back in June that killed his passenger.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:21 AM EST2013-12-06 15:21:30 GMT
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm. Last month, a typhoon tore across the eastern Philippines, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands. TheMore >>
Dozens of Vermont nurses are headed to the Philippines to help victims of a deadly storm.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:12 AM EST2013-12-06 15:12:36 GMT
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower. The College Street Congregational Church was badly damaged back in October by a fire investigators say was arson.More >>
A plea deal may be in the works for the man who police say torched a Burlington bell tower.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:11 AM EST2013-12-06 15:11:41 GMT
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home. Officials say the fire broke out Thursday afternoon on Ladd Road just before 4 p.m. By the time fire crews arrived on the scene theMore >>
A Vermont family is homeless after fire destroyed their Concord home.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:06 AM EST2013-12-06 15:06:19 GMT
Police are looking for a Burlington man who may be behind a robbery back in November. Police say three armed men targeted the home on Summit Street the night of November 18 and took property out by force.More >>
Police are looking for a Burlington man who may be behind a robbery back in November.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 AM EST2013-12-06 15:03:04 GMT
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro. Officers were called to Valley Street Thursday to check on a 39-year-old woman. While on the scene, police say the woman grabbed a largeMore >>
A welfare check turned into a dangerous situation in Brattleboro.More >>