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Francis Howell campaign committee dropping suit seeking new tax election

Francis Howell campaign committee dropping suit seeking new tax election

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Francis Howell Central building

Francis Howell Central building

UPDATED at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with comments from campaign committee

ST. CHARLES COUNTY   •   A campaign committee for a Francis Howell School District tax increase rejected by voters in November has withdrawn its lawsuit seeking a new vote at the upcoming April 4 election.

The group, Citizens for Prop Howell, on Wednesday filed a notice of dismissal in St. Charles County Circuit Court.

The proposed property tax hike was defeated, 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent, in the Nov. 8 election.

In December, the committee sued, contending that inaccurate school boundary lines used by the county Election Authority "cast doubt on the validity of the election."

The committee's attorney, Angela Bullock Gabel, said then that the group questioned whether there were widespread systemic problems with the vote.

On Thursday, the committee said in a statement that it still has such concerns but doesn't have the money needed to continue pursuing the issue in the courts.

Election Authority director Rich Chrismer had fought the suit.  He said only 16 Howell district voters were given ballots that failed to include the tax measure, far below the margin of defeat of more than 3,180 votes.

Gabel's investigation indicated that the issue "could have affected hundreds of additional voters," the campaign committee said Thursday.

The committee said members hope that the lawsuit had helped to make the election agency aware of such problems and has motivated officials there "to fix these issues."

The committee's statement was issued by its co-chairs, Mary Lange and Patrick Lane.   Lange and Lane are among five candidates running for three seats on the Francis Howell School Board up for election in April.

The other candidates are incumbents Mike Sommer and Rene Cope and former board member Stephen Johnson.

Longtime board member Mark Lafata, the current board president, is not seeking another term this year.

Lange is the sister-in-law of Chad Lange, a current board member whose term doesn't expire until next year.  The board has seven members who serve staggered terms.

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