2012 Revisited: Scaffidi Elected Oak Creek Mayor
Patch is taking a look back at 10 stories that shaped Oak Creek this year.
From now until the end of the year, Patch will be looking back at ten stories that shaped Oak Creek in 2012. Here's the second installment, which was originally posted the night of April 3.
Steve Scaffidi is the new mayor of Oak Creek after defeating Mark Verhalen in Tuesday's general election.
According to unofficial results, Scaffidi got 3,743 votes compared to 2,997 for Verhalen. Results remain unofficial until certified by the Board of Canvassers.
"I think all the hard work we put into the campaign over the past four months paid off," Scaffidi said. "It was a closer race than I actually thought it would be.
"Just very excited about the possibilities and the future of Oak Creek. Lots of great projects to work on and we're going to do our very best while saving as much money as we can in the process.
"I ran a positive race the whole time and I'm proud of that fact."
Verhalen couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday.
The mayor is elected to a three-year term at an annual salary of $18,100.
Verhalen, 55, is an Oak Creek-Franklin School Board member and owner of Verhalen Excavating. A lifelong Oak Creek resident, Verhalen graduated from Oak Creek High School in 1974, just two years ahead of Scaffidi.
Scaffidi, 53, was first elected to the Oak Creek Common Council in 2009 and is now the council president.
Scaffidi had been gearing up for a mayoral run for about a year. In announcing his run, he said he had the experience and qualifications necessary to become the next leader of Oak Creek.
Scaffidi declared before Mayor Dick Bolender made his intentions known. The three-term mayor announced on Dec. 7 he would not seek another term, but died suddenly just three days later. In the immediate aftermath, Scaffidi was named acting mayor until the council appointed former Alderman Al Foeckler to fill the position through the election.
By the time the filing deadline had passed Jan. 3, two more candidates -- Verhalen and Alderman Tom Michalski -- had entered the mayor's race.
Scaffidi's long-term planning paid off, with a well-organized campaign and numerous volunteers giving him a leg up. Green and black "Scaffidi Mayor" signs blanketed the city throughout the winter and early spring.
In the primary, he captured 49 percent of the vote, compared to Verhalen's 32 percent and Michalski's 19 percent.
The primary came two weeks after a controversial vote to move the library and city hall to the Delphi site. Verhalen and Scaffidi opposed the move (though Scaffidi said he favored moving the library there) while Michalski voted in favor.
As the weeks went on, more differences in Verhalen and Scaffidi were apparent, and evident during a mayoral forum co-sponsored by Oak Creek Patch.
Much work ahead
When he's sworn in April 17, Scaffidi will have no shortage of items on his plate.
Decisions await on the redevelopment of the former Delphi site, 7929 S. Howell Ave., arguably the top issue throughout the campaign. Scaffidi has said the city must study carefully and consider residents' input in the type of businesses that will go on the empty 85 acres at the corner of Drexel and Howell.
With the decision to relocate a new library and city hall at Delphi, discussions will ensure throughout the next year regarding the size, scope and cost of those buildings.
Changes are also ahead just down the road from Delphi -- Drexel Avenue is under construction and will be widened to a four-lane boulevard to accomodate the new Drexel Interchange, a project that gets under way in May.
In a video interview last week, Scaffidi also the city's development plans will have to be balanced with the city's continued financial challenges. The council must work to hold the line on residents' taxes while investing and improving the community.