By David Irvin
New Mexico’s congressional delegates formally requested all nine members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission attend a regional meeting next month in Clovis because the city tops the list of communities that would be hardest hit by a base closure.
At this point, only three of the nine commission members are expected to be at the June 24 hearing, said officials with the BRAC Commission. One of those is Commission Chairman Anthony Principi, according to Chris Gallegos of Sen. Pete Domenici’s office.
“I don’t think he plans on going to all of them (regional hearings),” Gallegos said.
The Department of Defense estimates at least 20 percent of the Clovis area would be adversely affected should Cannon Air Force Base close, which is twice as much as any other area among the 33 major bases on the BRAC list, which was released May 13.
“In light of these potentially severe consequences, we believe it is critical that each commissioner hear, firsthand, the presentation concerning Cannon Air Force Base,” states a joint press release from Sens. Domenici, R-N.M., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M.
In a press conference Saturday in Clovis, delegates said the commission members owe it to Clovis and Portales to be at the regional hearing, because the economic impact of closing the base would be so great.
Since learning Cannon was on the closure list, community leaders have vowed a lengthy and coordinated fight to get the air base removed from the list.
According to the BRAC Commission, members of the panel will visit Cannon on June 23, and the following day attend the regional hearing at Marshall Junior High School.
The regional hearing is the designated time for communities affected by base closings to state their case before the commission.
Five of the nine BRAC commissioners must vote to remove an installation from the closure list.