BOUNTIFUL — Incumbent Utah Gov. Gary Herbert won his position by default and led the state into a “train wreck” on issues such as maintaining Hill AFB and watching state finances, according to retired U. S. Army Gen. Peter Cooke, Democratic candidate for governor.
Cooke worries that the recent “realignments” at Hill AFB are only the beginning of a gradual decline in missions and resulting importance for Davis County’s largest employer, he told the Clipper editorial board.
“I’d be nervous as all heck,” Cooke said. “They took a maintenance wing from a two-star to a one-star (general leadership),” and transferred leadership to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, he said.
If elected, Cooke would try to close an Air Force Base in Nevada in order to keep Utah’s base open, he said.
Beyond voicing concerns about the future of Hill, Cooke said Utah’s economy is much worse than his opponent, Herbert, has claimed.
“We’ve been snookered,” Cooke said of Hill losing out to Tinker. “They (Oklahoma) took a $55 million bond” and used it to lease a shuttered GM plant to the Air Force for almost no money, he said.
“I’ve been in the Pentagon,” he continued. “You have to very careful. If I were the governor, I’d be at the Pentagon, receive a full briefing, and brief the state” on those proposals and what was happening, Cooke said, adding, “I’d be back there (D.C.), doing all I could to enhance Hill.”
The candidate also said that education funding continues to be eroded, that Utah is in too much debt and that the so-called “ Herbert land-grab” isn’t a real plan, but just a way to rile people up.
For more information check out the Sept. 13 edition of Davis Clipper.