Town mixes old with fresh faces for board

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— It was anybody's race to win Tuesday night.

And everybody knew it.

Heightened awareness of a close race convinced an estimated 50 percent of registered voters in the town of Oak Creek to cast their ballot in one of the larger municipal elections in Oak Creek history.

And unlike previous elections with few candidates vying for a spot on the board, not everyone who ran for a spot on the Oak Creek Town Board got a seat with their name on it.

A few of the current trustees that sought re-election were at one time appointed to the board when previous elections did not draw enough candidates to fill the positions or board members resigned.

But only five of the nine candidates were elected to the board.

The 255 people who voted in the five new candidates chose a mix of experienced and fresh faces.

Voters returned Trustee Mike Kien with 165 votes and Trustee Bill Paxton with 136 votes.

Newcomers John Crawford was elected with 150 votes, J. Elliott with 137 votes and David Stordal with 135 votes.

Completing the list was Bob Dresden with 126 votes, Trustee Sonja Norris with 85 votes, Robert Hageman 80 votes and Trustee Charlie Bevan with 76 votes.

Bevan dropped out of the race for a short time before recently declaring his intentions to run for the board.

Crawford, Dresden, Elliott, Hageman and Stordal sought election to a Town Board that drew accusations about its aptitude to change the supposed mess at Town Hall.

The competition for spots on the Town Board was healthy for the town, Kien said.

"It turned out great to make a really good election," he said.

The thought of a large number of people running for the Town Board would have been unheard of two or four years ago, Kien added.

Although he wants to approach his new term with optimism, Kien admits he will not be convinced of a new board's ability to immediately affect change.

Paxton, who was appointed two years ago, saw the benefits of running with a large pool of candidates.

Although he has lived in Oak Creek for 52 years, he said this election would stand out for its surprising outcomes.

The old board drew unfair criticism throughout the election, Paxton said.

The new board would encounter the same difficulties, he said.

"I think we're going to have a hard time for the next two years," he said.

The best thing to do, he added, was to sit and wait to see what would happen with the new board members and the new mayor.

The close votes held by top candidates will warrant a recount, town clerk Nancy Crawford said late Tuesday night.

By law the town must perform the recount within 10 days.

The recount, however, would not come immediately, she said.

"It won't be tomorrow," Crawford said.

The newly elected board will meet for the first time next Thursday.

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