Helena, Missoula Pass Anti-War Resolutions

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Voters in Helena and Missoula on Tuesday approved resolutions opposing the war in Iraq.

And Helena voters overwhelmingly approved a $7.85 million parks-improvement bond.

Missoula residents voted in favor of a referendum that asks Congress to get the U.S. out of the contentious Iraq war. The referendum passed by a vote of 7,897 to 4,421, or 64.1 percent to 35.9 percent.

While the referendum is mostly symbolic, supporter Betsy Mulligan-Dague of Missoula’s Jeannette Rankin Peace Center said the vote was encouraging.

“If enough cities pass this, it’s just bound to snowball and become something the Congress can’t ignore. It sends a message,” Mulligan-Dague said.

In Helena, voters approved a nonbinding ballot referendum that calls for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. It passed by a preliminary count of 5,032 votes to 3,108, or 61.8 percent to 38.2 percent.

By an almost identical percentage, Helena voters rejected a measure urging Congress to provide a blank check to the military to fight terrorism. The preliminary tally was 4,917 opposed and 3,060 in favor.

John Forbes, who authored the blank-check referendum, said its defeat doesn’t shine a positive light on Helena.

“To have what I consider basically a vote against the military does not reflect well on our community,” Forbes said.

Also on the Helena ballot Tuesday was a $7.85 million parks-improvement bond that won approval from about 71 percent of those casting ballots.

The money paves the way for the renovation and expansion of the Memorial Park pool, upgrades to Kindrick Legion Field and a massive undertaking to turn Centennial Park into the crown jewel of the city’s park system.

Voters approved the bond by 5,920 to 2,389.

“It’ll put us in a whole new class a whole new level of recreational opportunities and community pride,” Helena Mayor Jim Smith said.

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