To show solidarity and support for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor leaders launched a “positive support petition.”
Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns, three city council members, a Whidbey task force member, and an Island County commissioner will visit the Pentagon in March, taking with them a copy of the petition, which they plan to present to the Secretary of the Navy and other officials.
The idea for a positive support petition came up when the Growler Draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period was extended, said Severns.
“We believe that at least part of the decision to extend the comment period was due to COER’s request for more time to argue their position of non-support,” said Severns. “We decided to use the extension time to prove there is a much larger group of citizens who do support NAS Whidbey and their missions.”
“We believe it to be critical to continue to voice support for the base, supporting the sound of freedom from the silent majority,” said Christine Cribb, executive director of Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
Cribb said the online petition has more than 1,125 signatures.
“It is exciting to think that over 1,000 came within the first 24 hours,” she said.
The petition serves as a communal voice for the very large populace mostly left out of the public DEIS conversation, and which thoroughly backs the Navy, explained Steve Bristow, president of the Oak Harbor Area Council Navy League.
“The business of defense, and business of Island County prosperity, is everyone’s business,” he said.
NAS Whidbey poured more than a billion dollars into the local economy during 2016, according to information released by NAS Whidbey officials.
The petition is a collective message to all elected officials, Cribb said, “and those who oppose the United States Navy, to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom.”
While the petition’s timing is meant to coincide with the 30-day DEIS extension, its larger message is a show of support to show Navy, Pentagon, politicians of all parties and levels as well as NAS Whidbey leadership and personnel, Bristow said.
“This is a self-affirmation that NAS Whidbey enjoys exceedingly strong, committed support, especially by those with a firm understanding of what the base provides for national defense, comprehensive economic impact, search and rescue, and community service,” said Bristow.
• To sign the online petition, go to: www.ipetitions.com/petition/isupportnaswi