The executives from Madison, Dane County, Fitchburg, Middleton and Sun Prairie announced their picks for the recently formed Dane County Regional Transit Authority Friday.
The legislative bodies are expected to confirm the nominees early next year. Gov. Jim Doyle and the Dane County Cities and Villages Association both also both get to name a member to the 9-member authority.
The RTA will be charged with coming up with a regional transit plan that could include buses and light rail and will have the power to levy up to a half-cent sales tax to fund it. Any RTA plan is supposed to be approved by voters within the RTA area, which includes about half the county.
County Executive Kathleen Falk selected Kristine Euclide, vice president and general counsel of Madison Gas & Electric, and Dick Wagner, former Dane County Board chair and a member of the Transport 2020 committee.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz selected Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and Susan Schmitz, president of Downtown Madison Inc. Middleton Mayor Kurt Sonnentag picked Mark Opitz, that city's assistant planning director and a Dane County supervisor. Sun Prairie Mayor Joe Chase selected Donald A. Esposito, vice president of land acquisition and development and executive vice president for Veridian Homes. And Fitchburg Mayor Jay Allen picked Kimberly Warkentin, state director of America Votes.
The Dane County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved the controversial RTA in a 20-16 vote last month. A referendum on an RTA plan won't likely take place until next fall. Many residents protested that the county was creating an unelected body that had taxation power.
Falk spoke to those concerns in the county's announcement, saying: "My appointees to the RTA will vote to have a referendum before there's any sales tax for transportation improvements and they will honor the decision of the voters."
Cieslewicz had this to say: "An RTA will allow us to improve and expand our bus service, as well as explore options for a regional transit system. I'm confident that we are bringing together qualified appointees that will move us toward the goal of truly regional transit."