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Wisconsin Green Party
MAY 27, 2005
9:18 AM

CONTACT: Wisconsin Green Party
Jeff Peterson, Campaign Coordinator, Referendum on Troop Withdrawal from Iraq 715.472.2728
Jill Bussiere, Co-Chair, Wisconsin Green Party 920.388.0529, cell - 920.255.2175,

Greens Launch Effort for Referendum on Troop Withdrawal
MADISON, Wisconsin - May 27 - The Wisconsin Green Party announced today that it will work with citizens across the state to place an advisory referendum on as many local ballots as possible in next spring's election asking voters the question, "Should the United States begin an immediate, phased withdrawal of its troops from Iraq?"

Jeff Peterson, of Luck, will coordinate the various efforts around the state, most of which will involve convincing county boards to give their constituents the opportunity to weigh in on the war. "We intentionally crafted a referendum that is neutral in its language," said Peterson. "We're not trying to put local elected officials on the spot by forcing them to take a stand on the war. We just think that, after two years, it would be the democratic thing to do to allow average citizens to weigh in on the Iraq situation."

Peterson, who was the Green Party's candidate for lieutenant governor in 2004, said he expects the idea of a voter referendum to receive an enthusiastic response not only from local Green Party chapters, but also from the informal network of peace and justice groups that have sprung up around the state in recent years. They will also reach out, he said, to families with loved ones in the military.

Wisconsin law permits statewide referenda of an advisory nature, but only with the legislature's approval. Because that can be difficult, many referenda questions are submitted at the county level. In last April's election, for example, the Wisconsin Counties Association succeeded in getting two questions regarding state funding of court and social service systems on the ballot in almost every county. Both questions passed overwhelmingly.

Cities and villages may also vote to put referenda on their ballots; they are obliged to do so when presented with petitions containing signatures totalling 15% of the vote for governor in the last election.

Wisconsin Green Party Co-Chair Jill Bussiere of Kewaunee thinks people are ready to have a say on the war. "We've had countless vigils and marches and protests," she said, "but too often they go unreported by the media. I think if the majority of those voting next April 4 vote in favor of withdrawing our troops from Iraq, that will send a strong message to our national elected representatives in Washington."

While their proposed referendum may be worded in neutral language, the Green Party is anything but neutral on issues of war and peace. One of what they call their "key values" is nonviolence, and Greens were among the earliest and most outspoken critics of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. And while theirs may have been the minority view two years ago, Bussiere says she thinks people are growing weary of a war that appears as if it has no end.

"There are still some people who think that, to support the troops, you have to support the war, too," she said. "I think the best way to show support for our troops is to make every effort to bring them home as soon as possible."


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