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Voters reject all local tax proposals, SR alderman ties with challenger

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 5, 2022) -- Voters rejected every tax proposal in Pulaski County during Tuesday's city and school board elections, with some of the tax proposals going down in flames by two-to-one margins, and one City of Saint Robert, Missouri alderman race between incumbent Theresa Cook and challenger Glen Askeland came down to a 25-25 vote tie. Unofficial results indicate the only defeated incumbent was George Dalgetty on the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District board, who lost with 314 votes by a two-vote margin to newcomer Robert Jones with 316. The other fire board incumbent, Robert Fitzgerald, was re-elected with 342 votes.

For countywide races and races that crossed precinct lines, most vote totals were similar across the relevant districts, but there were some exceptions. While voters in every precinct in the county rejected the internet use tax, often by wide margins, some parts of Pulaski County supported a road and bridge sales tax that would replace the existing property tax, though not enough to pass the tax. St. Robert voters supported it by a 174 to 167 margin, as did Dixon voters by a 200 to 174 margin, Laquey voters by a 184 to 150 margin and Swedeborg voters by a 24-18 margin. Waynesville voters tied by a 257 to 257 margin. But those margins of support weren't enough to counteract blowout rejections in Crocker by a 131 to 217 margin and in Big Piney by an 8 to 28 margin, along with smaller margins of defeat in absentee ballots and in Richland.

The worst margin of defeat on any ballot issue was for a countywide use tax that would have charged sales tax for internet purchases at the same rates paid at brick-and-mortar businesses in Pulaski County. That proposal went down to defeat with only 791 voters in favor, compared to 1,426 opposed.

The margin was almost as much in Crocker, where a law enforcement sales tax proposed by Crocker City Hall was rejected by a 60-40 percent margin of 45 votes in favor and 69 opposed, and in the City of Dixon, MO Municipal Government, where an internet use tax was rejected by a 42-58 percent margin of 58 in favor and 81 opposed. The margin of defeat for the internet use tax in the City of Richland, Missouri Municipal Government was 45-55 percent, with 30 in favor and 36 opposed. However, a few votes in Richland come from parts of the city in Laclede and Camden counties, and with only a six-vote margin, that result could change.

The only tax that came close to passing was a proposal to convert the existing Pulaski County, MO Commission/Road & Bridge Department dedicated property tax for roads into a sales tax estimated to raise $2.7 million per year. Voters also rejected that by a 49-51 percent margin, with 1,091 in favor and 1,144 opposed.

Two ballot proposals did pass. In the Laquey R-V School District, voters approved a bond proposal with no tax levy change by a 78-22 percent margin of 279 voters in favor and 78 opposed. In the City of Dixon, MO Municipal Government, voters decided by a 74-72 margin that they will no longer elect the city marshal and will have a police chief appointed by the city council to head the Dixon MO Police Department. Dixon was one of the few remaining cities in Missouri to still elect the head of the police department, and the Dixon police have been mired in controversy for many years with a former city marshal forced out of office after being charged with numerous crimes.

Except for St. Robert Alderman Theresa Cook, who tied with challenger Glen Askeland in a three-way race, incumbents generally did well in their city council and school board elections, usually winning easily in those races that were contested.

St. Robert aldermen Linda Daniels and Mike Myers, Richland aldermen Carolyn Tyre and Brian Mahan, and City of Waynesville MO Municipal Government Councilman Ed Conley were all easily re-elected by large margins. Unofficial write-in totals show former Waynesville Councilman Mike France is the likely winner in Ward IV, for which nobody filed, with 15 write-in votes compared to 2 for Mike Curtis, who didn't run for re-election, 2 for Tyler Ferrell, and one each for Matthew Hayes and Trisha Wooster.

School boards saw similar results. Dixon voters returned both incumbents, Zach Shepherd and Doug Roam, in a three-way board race for the Dixon R-I School District. Waynesville R-VI School District voters re-elected incumbent board members Aaron Pondrum and Charles Quinn from a field of four candidates. Laquey returned incumbent Michael Sadler with 188 votes, the only current board member who ran for re-election, and elected a newcomer, Justin Lonergan, with 243 votes. with none of the other two other candidates close. In Crocker, the two winners in a three-way race were incumbent Jeff Danielson, who received 242 votes, and newcomer Sherry Campise with 239. Swedeborg had to have a write-in campaign for the second of two seats on the Swedeborg R-III School Board: incumbent Geremy Frank won with 41 votes and the apparent write-in winner for the second seat is Wes Poulson with 7 votes, compared to 4 for Nicholas Leta, 3 for Leann Huey, and one each for Brenda York and Brent Alexander.

Richland school voters had no contested races, and the same was true for the Crocker and Dixon city councils.

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