A new poll shows residents around Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey strongly supporting the air base and overwhelmingly opposing the lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. That legal action is attempting to halt the Navy’s expansion of operations by Growler aircraft at the Whidbey Island base.
In stating his support of the lawsuit, Governor Jay Inslee said it was filed in part to “protect the local communities.” Yet, according to the poll, the local community supports NAS Whidbey at 78%, while they oppose the lawsuit by a lopsided 66% to 20% margin.
The poll of 728 voters in the 10th Legislative District (Island County, NW Snohomish County and SW Skagit County) was conducted in late July by Remington Research Company.
In March, after years of studies and public comment, the Navy authorized the expansion of the Growler program at NAS Whidbey. The Growler is a low-flying aircraft that interrupts enemy communications.
Recently the Mayor of Oak Harbor, Bob Severns, was involved in a public disagreement with AG Ferguson over the lawsuit and the future of NAS Whidbey. Severns contended that the Navy had performed the required impact studies and that the lawsuit threatened the future of the air base.
Ferguson responded to the mayor by saying he had spoken to Severns’ constituents and said, “I encourage the mayor to listen to their voices as keenly as he’s listening to the Growler jets overhead.” According to the poll, the Mayor has done a considerably better job of listening to the local community than the Attorney General.
It should be remembered that NAS Whidbey was on the base closure list in the early 1990’s and it was community testimony before the Base Closure Commission on the base’s strategic importance and fiscal viability that kept Whidbey from being mothballed.