MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Aldermen Bob Donovan and Joe Davis, Sr. announced a citywide petition drive on Monday, January 5th -- to force a binding referendum on funding for the proposed downtown streetcar project. Their goal -- 31,000 signatures in 60 days.
Donovan and Davis plan to run against each other for mayor in 2016. But now, they are teaming up -- opposed to Mayor Tom Barrett's $123 million streetcar proposal.
"My constituents have made it very clear that they don't see a return on investment in this particular initiative," said Alderman Davis.
"You can support this, you can oppose it. I am simply saying give the people a voice," said Alderman Donovan.
The aldermen have formed a committee they call "UNITED for Milwaukee." Now they need 31,000 signatures in 60 days. If they get them, a referendum could be put on the April ballot asking voters to decide whether they want the streetcar.
Alderman Robert Bauman, a streetcar supporter, calls the timing of this petition "suspicious." That's because it comes just days away from a January 21st Common Council vote on the matter.
"I would strongly, strongly, strongly suspect the motives of the proponents on this referendum," said Bauman. "There's been an awful lot of time for people who were sincerely concerned about cost and about public input to have started this referendum process."
While there have been changes and amendments to the proposal, this is an issue that dates back more than 20 years. In fact, the Common Council already voted in favor of a downtown streetcar for the city in 2011. Mayor Barrett says that in itself speaks volumes.
"We could have a referendum on every single issue that the city faces. But that's why the alderman are elected, that's why the mayor is elected," said Barrett.
The official launch of the "UNITED for Milwaukee" campaign is set for Tuesday, January 6th at Serb Hall in Milwaukee. You can learn more about this effort by CLICKING HERE.