Twenty-four of 32 Wisconsin communities approved referendums Tuesday calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, while eight others voted against such measures.
Though the referendums carry no weight — municipal governments can’t dictate the federal government’s actions — organizers hoped to send a message.
The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, which helped organize the efforts, was already looking at expanding it to more cities in future elections, said spokeswoman Rachel Friedman. She said elected officials should take the results into account as they look toward the November elections.
“They have seven months to listen to us, to the voters and to do the right thing,” Friedman said. “The people have spoken. This is what democracy looks like.”
Voters in the capital Madison, the Milwaukee suburbs of Shorewood and Whitefish Bay and the western city of La Crosse were among those approving a pullout. Those voting down the measure included the south-central city of Watertown and the northwestern city of Hayward.
Terri Librizzi, 78, of Shorewood, was among the 70 percent of voters in the village to approve the measure. “Maybe if George Bush’s daughters would have to go into the service, the war would end tomorrow,” Librizzi said.
‘It would be a mess’
But Sister Bay resident Peter Trenchard said he wasn’t surprised voters in his village voted down the measure. He said many people there did not approve of the war in the first place, but they don’t see pulling troops out as a solution.
“Logic tells you you can’t pull out of there. It would be a mess,” said Trenchard, 67.
Most of the referendums asked whether the voters supported withdrawing the troops immediately, and Evansville also had one urging support of President Bush, a measure that voters rejected.
In the Columbia County town of Newport, voters rejected a referendum asking whether the United States should hand operational command of Iraq’s national security over to the Iraqi government before the end of 2006.
No U.S. deadline
Bush has refused to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Fifty-one soldiers from Wisconsin have died in Iraq since the invasion three years ago.
Geralyn Lu, 50, of Madison, voted to withdraw the troops in that city’s referendum. “So many lives lost in a futile war. I didn’t want them there in the first place,” she said.
But Katy Hampton, 53, of Monona, said if the soldiers leave Iraq, the country will descend into chaos. That’s why she voted against bringing the soldiers back, she said.
“There’s still not a firm government in place,” Hampton said. “I don’t want it to be a mess. They should follow it through.”