HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Depending on which military town you live in – Wednesday was a memorable day for different reasons.
In Huntsville there was celebration following the news the U.S. Air Force’s preferred location for the headquarters for Space Command, and an expected 1,400 jobs, is Redstone Arsenal.
But in the command’s current home, Colorado Springs, there was frustration and calls for the selection process to be reopened.
Colorado Springs officials have appealed to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, asking for a review of the announced decision.
Alabama has powerful lawmakers in both the U.S. Senate and House in terms of the federal budget and defense. Colorado officials contend, that influence and support of President Donald Trump made the difference.
Alabama officials counter by pointing to Huntsville’s long history with the U.S. space program and the military.
The official Air Force statement on the selection cited a number of factors in Huntsville’s favor.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers isn’t convinced.
“Bottom line is there is significant political connections between the President and the congressional delegation in Alabama.
President Trump was supported in his objections to the Electoral College by all of Alabama’s GOP House members and none of them voted to impeach him. New Alabama U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville also objected to the Electoral College tally.
But U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, from North Alabama’s 4th District, said the selection of Redstone Arsenal was on the merits
Looking at all the factors involved, Huntsville came out on top,” he said. “And my understanding is it was by a long shot, it’s not that it was between two places and Huntsville maybe inched out a bit, it was like hand’s down Huntsville was the best location.”
Reports from Colorado suggest the president intervened last week on behalf of Alabama after the Air Force said it preferred Colorado Springs. Aderholt doubts that.
“As you well know he’s had a lot on his plate the last few weeks, and I’m not sure that intervening and deciding where this particular command goes was on the top of his priority list.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said Huntsville has spent years getting ready to compete for jobs and business.
“I think you’ve got to look at the Air Force’s announcement,” he said. “You had to have schools, you had to have infrastructure, you had to have a workforce, you have to have a lot of these things to make this work. They looked very hard for two years, they made us go through our paces. And this was done on merit. It was done on the merit that we as a community have been setting ourselves up for the last 15, 20 years.”
The final decision won’t be made until 2023, but Huntsville currently holds the inside track.