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Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006 04:59 am

Change course

Capital city says bring troops home

It’s (not quite) official: people in Springfield don’t support the Iraq war.

With all precincts tallied, Capital Township voters voted 60 percent to 40 percent in favor of a measure calling on President George W. Bush and Congress to immediately begin a comprehensive pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The election results won’t be final until they’re approved by the Sangamon County canvassing board and absentee votes are counted.

One of those absentee ballots was cast by Michael Ziri, a Springfield native who led the effort to place the Iraq measure before local voters.

Asked his reaction to the vote, Ziri says, “I’m good — I guess I’m better than good, actually.”

In many precincts in which Republican gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka easily beat incumbent Rod Blagojevich, the Iraq measure still passed convincingly — proof, Ziri says, that the war isn’t a partisan issue.

The Iraq problem is what exit polls nationwide show drove uncharacteristically high voter turnout in this year’s midterm elections and helped Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Control of the U.S. Senate hinged on the outcome of the race in Virginia as Illinois Times went to press.

According the group Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, similar initiatives were headed for passage in most communities across Illinois and the rest of the country. Among the exceptions: Sycamore Township, in Illinois’ DeKalb County.

Ziri, who is studying international affairs at the New School in New York City, says he hopes that the group he helped form to get the Iraq referendum on the ballot, Springfield Citizens Against the War, will remain active.

“I hope the group grows and more people go to vigils and that they began to apply pressure now that there are more friendly faces in government,” Ziri says.

But “citizens are still going to have to poke and prod” Congress’ new Democratic leaders, he says, because they’re not going make Iraq an issue on their own.

Contact R.L. Nave rnave@illinoistimes.com.

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