XENIA — United States Cong. Mike Turner and two of the area’s top law enforcement officials are calling for Theresa Gasper to apologize for a comment she made about Wright-Patterson Air Force Base last week.
At a candidate’s forum with the Greater Dayton Real Estate Investors Association, Gasper — who is running against Turner in Ohio’s 10th district — said “I’d like to comment one more thing on Wright-Patt. It is an enduring base. It’s never going to close. Unless somebody blows it up.”
Turner, a staunch supporter of WPAFB, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer and Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer condemned Gasper for what they called an “unprofessional and irresponsible” comment.
“We’re immediately calling on her to recant and apologize to all of the men and women who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said Sept. 25. “And their families.”
Gasper issued the following statement via email:
“I recognize the unfortunate choice of words in my response to a question about Wright-Patterson Air Force Base last week. Wright-Patt is the economic driver in our region and critical to our national defense. I took issue with the tenor of the forum at that moment, in what I saw to be other participants stoking fear about the possibility of large job losses from the Base, at a venue where neither Congressman Turner nor his staffer even bothered to show up. We don’t need politicians fear-mongering instead of coming up with solutions, especially after we’ve seen so many businesses leave during Congressman Turner’s tenure. Our region needs to be strong for Wright-Patt to attract the talent it needs and speculation in lieu of action just isn’t the answer.”
A video of Gasper making the statement was provided by Turner’s campaign.
“This is a shocking disregard for the people who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner. “It shows that she’s completely unqualified to serve in any capacity. Certainly not congress. Every man and woman who works at any base across our country would be offended by such a cavalier statement.”
Roy Colbrunn, a retired firefighter who worked as a first responder on base said he was “shocked” by the statement.
“I worked at the base during 9/11 and being blown up was a real possibility then,” Colbrunn said. “It’s not something I think we should joke about.”
Gasper’s statement comes just a few weeks after an active-shooter scare on base that drew first responders from all over the Miami Valley.
“You shouldn’t plant the seed in anybody’s mind,” Plummer said. “It’s just appalling that she would even mention harming … or giving people the idea of harming people like that.”
Fischer said in addition to obvious security issues, Gasper is implying the base will never go away, which is not true.
“The base does stand a chance of losing components,” he said. “We don’t want that to happen. That base means a lot to this area, and to this state and to this country. We need to support this base.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.