Columbia, SC (WLTX) - More than 12,000 signatures were submitted to the city of Columbia Tuesday evening in an effort to change the city's form of government.
The petitions request a 'strong mayor' form of government and if they are certified it would force the city to put a strong mayor referendum on a ballot.
When this issue was brought before city council it was struck down by a four to three vote.
Council members in opposition of the change say the current form of government has worked in the city and there is no need in changing the way city government is run.
Mayor Steve Benjamin who is running for re-election says this move will put more responsibility on the mayor for the decisions that are made.
He also says it gives the community the power to truly hold the mayor responsible for what happens in Columbia.
The measure has the support of former state attorney general Henry McMaster.
"City council needs to go ahead and vote now that this petition has been filed and set the date to November 5th because if they don't it will cost us more than 100,000 dollars to have a special election and there is no point in putting it off any longer we have waited this long and now is the time," said McMaster.
"I understand that there are people that share different opinions but that is not what this petition drive has been about. It's recognizing that the people of Columbia have the right to make that decision not city council and making sure that the people have the chance to make that call," said Mayor Steve Benjamin.
Columbia City Council has called a special meeting, Wednesday at 6:15 at the Eau Claire print building to discuss putting it on the November 5th ballot.
Under law - the city has 90 days after the petition is certified before it has to go before voters; which meansthere could potentially be a separate special election just for this issue.