Mike Murray is seeking his first term as mayor of the city of Tomah.
He is running against incumbent Nellie Pater and fellow city of Tomah city council member Mary Ann Komiskey.
Murray is the alderman for District 3 on the Tomah city council. He has served on the council since October 2015, when he was appointed to fill the remaining term of Mary Ellen Justinger.
In 2017 Murray declined to seek election to his first full two-year term until nobody filed to run, so he registered as a write-in candidate.
Murray was born and raised in Tomah. He attended Tomah High School, where he graduated in 1984.
After high school, Murray worked in the food and service industries. He now works as a customer service representative for American Family Insurance and for the past six years has been a driving instructor for Driving Stars. In the next year or so Murray plans to open a restaurant at the site for the former Tee Pee Supper Club.
He has one daughter.
Murray volunteers in the community and is involved with the Special Needs Program including the Special Needs Prom and Special Christmas Party.
“I try to volunteer for as many things as I can,” he said. “I try to help out with the fundraising whenever people need help with it.”
Murray said he’s running for mayor because he wants to help the city evolve.
“Tomah is growing and it’s moving forward, and I just feel like I can help in that manner,” he said. “Tomah’s of the cusp of some really big growth and we have to be ready and prepared to react to it, and when it occurs we have to be ready when it gets here, not react after it gets here.”
If elected as mayor Murray hopes to continue to help the city grow and not focus on only one specific area of town.
“It’s about fortifying the city as a whole,” he said. “A lot of things are going to be happening on the south end ... but we don’t want to take away attention from the north end or any other spots.”
On the city’s Tax Incremental Finance Districts, Murray is in favor of all three.
“I think they’re absolutely essential,” he said. “They’re crucial to the growth of a city. ... It shows not only faith in the businesses that are coming in presently, but future businesses that perhaps want to look at Tomah. They show that Tomah’s a proactive community and willing to work with them with the knowledge that making them stronger makes the community stronger.”
The new Tomah Memorial Hospital and Gundersen Clinic and cancer center is fantastic news for the city, Murray said. It creates visibility for the city because of its location and will make people curious about the city.
“Any cities where you go where, I’ll use La Crosse or Onalaska as an example, they have numerous locations along the Interstate, and I’ve had opportunity to use them, but when I’m there, quite often it isn’t just there that I visit; I try to get other things done while I’m there, too,” he said. “I hope ... we can do the same thing.”
On the relocation of Monroe County’s Rolling Hills Rehabilitation Center & Retirement Home to Tomah, Murray said Tomah is an ideal location because of the proximity to the new hospital.
“I think sometimes what gets lost in the conversation is that it isn’t about Tomah, it isn’t about Sparta, it’s about a nursing facility in the most opportunistic place,” he said. “The county of Monroe extends beyond those two locations, and we have to think about what is best for the residents in a big picture.”
On the new Chamber of Commerce building, Murray is in favor of the Chamber paying a fee, but since the city approached the chamber promising a rent of $1 a year, the city should stick to that deal because it’s not good business to back away from that even if it was a verbal contract rather than a written one.
“If you go into the legalistic things, there is such a thing as a verbal contract and verbal contracts are binding,” he said. “So whether or not we want to say, ‘Well it wasn’t in writing,’ I mean if we want to argue semantics, it’s a dangerous road to travel down, because now we’re getting nit-picky with it.”
While Murray wants to honor the agreement, he wants the chamber to pay $250,000 for the building.
“Most marketing firms I've got to believe they bill out at least $100 an hour,” he said. “If this is the road we want to travel, great, let’s have them write us a $250,000 check and pay taxes on it and then in turn the Chamber can turn around and bill the city $100 an hour for their full 4,160 hours (of work). So each year the city will get a bill for $416,000 from the Chamber of Commerce for their advertising services and promotional services. So if we want to charge the $250,000, OK, great, but then we need to pay them ... just as we do any other marketing firm.”
On taxes, Murray said they’re in the in the right place.
“Taxes are going to have to be there, they have to exist,” he said. “If we want to eliminate taxes, well then we eliminate police departments and we eliminate fire departments and we eliminate people working on roads and sewers and so on. Everything has a cost. In order for all of us to enjoy it we all have to share in the cost.”
Streets in the city aare as good as can be expected living in Wisconsin, Murray said.