Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Democratic Challenger Peter Cooke faced off in their first debate Friday. The two men touted policy accomplishments and ideas concerning the state economy, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and federal control over public lands. Herbert and Cooke also shared their differences on the future of Hill Air Force Base. Cooke, a retired U.S. Army Major General, asserted that Hill could lose its vital maintenance mission to Tinker Air Force Base outside of Oklahoma City in the next Base Realignment and Closure round scheduled for 2015.
“That mission is in jeopardy and as Governor I will go to work immediately, I have some ideas and concepts on how we can bring that back, but Tinker, Oklahoma City, beat us on the first phase of BRAC,” said Peter Cooke.
Governor Herbert disagreed with Cooke and said he believes Hill Air Force Base will continue to be valuable to the U.S. Department of Defense.
“This has to do with the ability for us to make sure those who make the decision understand what a great treasure and what an efficient base Hill Air Force Base is. It’s going to be with us because it will stand on its merits and not fall to some kind of political favoritism,” said Governor Gary Herbert.
This first debate between Governor Herbert and General Cooke was sponsored by the Utah League of Cities and Towns and was moderated by Doug Wright of KSL News Radio. Many of the people posing questions to the candidates were leaders of local Utah communities.