OAK CREEK - The 3rd District's aldermanic candidates have their own take on Oak Creek's rapid growth as well as their views on where Oak Creek may go in the future.
For the seat that is up for election on Tuesday, April 4, incumbent Mark Verhalen will face Richard Duchniak.
We asked the candidates three pertinent questions, especially in light of the recent resignation of Steve Scaffidi from the mayoral seat. Answers were limited to 50 words per question. Some answers were edited for length.
1. Oak Creek has been growing fast with many new businesses coming into the city. What insight can you, specifically, bring to the council to assist them in dealing with this rapid growth?
Verhalen: As a resident, business owner and alderman, I have seen Oak Creek transform from a farming community to a thriving city. Rapid growth has led to many speculative decisions. I will continue to address this issue by considering and utilizing all available information to achieve the best for Oak Creek.
Duchniak: Community input is essential in formulating any development plan. I managed significant growth at the Oak Creek Community Center since 1999 by developing and implementing a solid strategic plan. I used community feedback to create valuable programs and services. I would bring these skills and experience to the council.
2. Some residents miss the "old Oak Creek" before the development boom, while others like the "new Oak Creek" that's much more developed. How would you describe your approach/philosophy regarding development in the city?
Verhalen: My vision is for well-planned, sustainable growth. As the city grows, we must limit incentives to developers and work to reduce city debt. The emphasis should be on bringing quality developments to Oak Creek’s business corridor. Working for our residents should be the primary goal of all elected officials.
Duchniak: Properly enacted change can yield positive results. Feedback has been favorable on new community conveniences (shopping, entertainment and dining). The preservation of existing and creation of new recreation/community programs should appeal to both groups. I support responsible development that increases tax base revenue and enhances our community's quality of life.
3. With Mayor Scaffidi resigning, the city's leadership is in flux. What can you bring to the council to help evoke confidence from residents in their city's leadership going forward in a potentially uncertain future?
Verhalen: Oak Creek has a veteran council along with a capable and informed plan commission. The council is supported by an experienced and dedicated staff with an excellent management team. I am confident that the transition will be smooth and the city will continue to service all areas with no disruptions.
Duchniak: For 17 years as director of the Oak Creek Community Center, I developed relationships with area residents, businesses and civic organizations to create valuable community programs and services. As alderman, I'll use that experience to ensure that a positive connection continues between city government, residents, organizations, and businesses.
Address:1200 E. Ryan Road
Political history: Alderman 3rd District 2007-2009, 2015 to present, school board member 2010 to present.
Phone number: 414-322-0337
Address: 1035 E. Stonegate Drive
Phone number: 414-840-7037
Political history: None, first attempt at public office