village or city hold a referendum election on an issue merely because a
resident or group of residents requests one by petition?
No. The instances in which a resident or
resident group may compel a governing body to hold a referendum election
using a petition or otherwise are limited to those circumstances
specified by state law or local ordinance. For example, state law
requires that a referendum be held in some annexation actions if a
sufficient number of qualified petitioners file a referendum petition.
Wis. Stat. sec. 66.021(5)(c). Likewise, a referendum would result from a
proper petition for direct legislation (see Elections 593 for an
in-depth discussion of direct legislation petitions) and the governing
body failure or refusal to adopt the proposed ordinance or resolution.
Wis. Stat. sec. 9.20(4). However, in the absence of a specific statute
such as these or a local ordinance, a governing body has no legal
obligation to hold a referendum election on an issue solely because the
demand is made by petition from one or more residents.