Oak Creek aldermanic candidates discuss development, opportunity areas in the district ahead of February primary

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A voter holds a voting sticker at the National Guard Armory polling station in Oak Creek in this 2019 file photo. Three candidates for District 4 alderman in Oak Creek are facing off in a primary Feb. 15. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general spring election April 5.
A voter holds a voting sticker at the National Guard Armory polling station in Oak Creek in this 2019 file photo. Three candidates for District 4 alderman in Oak Creek are facing off in a primary Feb. 15. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general spring election April 5.

Oak Creek's District 4 aldermanic race features an incumbent, a former alderman, and a newcomer in the spring election primary.

Mike Toman, the incumbent, is facing off Feb. 15 against Mark Verhalen, a former Oak Creek District 3 alderman, and newcomer Lisa Marshall. The top two vote-getters will advance to the spring election April 5.

Now News Group caught up with the candidates to discuss how to best utilize opportunities in District 4 and about the developmental direction of the city as a whole. Their responses were limited to 100 words and subject to editing for clarity and length.

Despite multiple attempts to reach him, incumbent Mike Toman did not respond in time for publication. The story was updated Jan. 26 to include Toman's responses.

1. Oak Creek is developing quickly with projects such as the Highgate development and Lakeshore Commons. Do you think the city is moving forward too fast, too slow or just right?

Mark Verhalen: I do not feel that there is really a gauge on the progress of development in any city. Supply and demand is usually the governing factor. I do feel at this point that the city should focus more on single-family residential development. This type of development is one of Oak Creek's shortcomings as there are very few lots available throughout the city. Multifamily developments inherently put a higher demand on city services.

Lisa Marshall: Oak Creek has a history of successful growth from a farming community to the addition of WE Energies, the coming and going of the AC Delco/Delphi Plant becoming Drexel Town Square, Ikea making Oak Creek a regional destination on our I-94 corridor, and our beautiful District 4 Lake Front. Lake Vista is the premier location in District 4 and as the development moves forward it is important to continue our record of success. I hope to be part of the council to continue the growth and attract more members to our community.

Mike Toman: I’ve supported both projects and have reviewed every TIF project in this city. My passion is the lakefront which is in my district. I have fought long and hard to get the amazing results which can be witnessed at Lake Vista Park. Public record will show that every single TIF project is healthy. Oak Creek is moving forward at the right pace.

2. What do you think is an opportunity area in the fourth district, and how would you utilize it?

Verhalen: The fourth district has multiple areas suited for some new residential projects. We also need to work on our Lakefront opportunities. As Alderman, I would work with others in the city, county and the private sector to continue working on our park and lakefront property.

Marshall: Lake Michigan and the District 4 Lakefront holds our best opportunities. With lakefront land still available, the development of single-family lots and small business on the east side of Oak Creek would be something I would like to explore. Working on this with our city and being sure that the infrastructure is in place to support it is a challenge that I welcome and hope that my fellow District 4 neighbors will support.

Toman: Development in and around Lake Vista Park, including 5th Avenue, is very exciting. Residential, retail, entertainment and the most unique walking neighborhood is already in our plans. Opportunities are endless on our lakefront.

3. Is the city too focused on multifamily developments, or what kind of development(s) should the city focus on attracting?

Verhalen: In looking at what Oak Creek has to offer, we should be presenting opportunities for commercial development along our I-94 corridor. I see Oak Creek creating another development on the east side of the city with a mix of commercial venues i.e.: restaurants, retail stores and community-friendly businesses. This area at this time lacks any of this type of development.

Marshall: The development that has occurred has done a great job attracting new residents to Oak Creek, but to retain growing families it is important for our community to promote the development of more single-family lots and homes that will help to retain these families as they grow and give them a place to call home.

Toman: I have supported a wide diversity in housing since I’ve taken office. Many residents shy away from more apartments, but previous mayors, common councils and staff have set very high standards for newly built apartments. My fourth district developed a high-end RS-1 subdivision which I supported that is called The Bluffs. A quality mix of housing is healthy for the city as a whole.

Candidate bios

Mark Verhalen
Mark Verhalen

Mark Verhalen

AGE: 66

ADDRESS: 9330 S. Nicholson Rd.

PREVIOUS ELECTED EXPERIENCE: Alderman 3rd District; School Board member

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Previously served on many committees for the city of Oak Creek, and also for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

CONTACT: mverhalen55@yahoo.com, 414-322-0337

Lisa Marshall
Lisa Marshall

Lisa Marshall

AGE: 53

ADDRESS: 10245 S Camden Ct.

PREVIOUS ELECTED EXPERIENCE: Appointed to the Oak Creek Celebration Commission from August 2018 to March of 2021

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Co-Vice Chair of Oak Creek Community Center Board of Directors, Advisor of the Oak Creek High School STEM Club and Round Table Robotics Team, Chairperson of the 2021 Oak Creek 4th of July Parade Committee, 2017 Oak Creek Citizen of the Year, Oak Creek Poll Worker since 2016, and Parish Member of St. Matthews in Oak Creek since 2006.

Mike Toman
Mike Toman

Mike Toman

AGE: 69

ADDRESS: 3579 E. American Ave.

PREVIOUS ELECTED EXPERIENCE: Nineteen years as an Oak Creek Alderman

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: 25 years of volunteerism with the Oak Creek Lions Club; 42 year member of Grace Lutheran Church; various fundraisers at the Oak Creek Legion post; fireworks and parade volunteer

CONTACT: 414-807-3337, mtoman@oakcreekwi.org

Contact Erik S. Hanley at (262) 875-9467 or erik.hanley@jrn.com. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter at @ES_Hanley.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Candidates for alderman in Oak Creek discuss development, city growth

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