Metro-East News

Five weeks after election, two City Council candidates concede

Rothweiler discusses Ward 6 vote count

Chris Rothweiler discusses the new vote totals in the race to be the alderman in Belleville Ward 6. After vote by mail ballots were counted, Rothweiler took the lead in the race over Andrew Gaa.
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Chris Rothweiler discusses the new vote totals in the race to be the alderman in Belleville Ward 6. After vote by mail ballots were counted, Rothweiler took the lead in the race over Andrew Gaa.

More than a month after the April 2 election, the two candidates who each lost their races by three votes in Belleville and Fairview Heights city council races have conceded defeat and will no longer seek to challenge the results.

Andy Gaa in Belleville and Roger Lowry in Fairview Heights both had requested a recount in one precinct in their wards. After those recounts were held in St. Clair County Clerk’s Tom Holbrook’s office this week, Gaa and Lowry decided they did not see any evidence that would prompt them to file a lawsuit over the election results

Chris Rothweiler, with 313 votes, defeated Gaa, who had 310 votes and was the incumbent Ward 6 alderman in Belleville.

In Fairview Heights, Anthony LeFlore had 161 votes and Lowry, who was the incumbent Ward 2 alderman, had 158 votes.

Both Rothweiler and LeFlore were sworn into office this week.

Belleville election results

Gaa initially had a seven-vote lead in the race on April 2 but Rothweiler took over the lead after mail-in ballots that arrived at the clerk’s office after April 2 were counted on April 16.

Gaa conceded Thursday after a recount was conducted in Belleville Precinct 35 on Wednesday. Rothweiler had 157 votes in this precinct and Gaa had 153.

Gaa noted that most of the Ward 6 mail-in ballots received either before Election Day or after Election Day did not have postmarks.

However, state law allows mail-in ballots to be counted even if they don’t have postmarks.

Laura Kaemmerer of the county clerk’s office said the U.S. Postal Service has been notified about the large ballot envelopes that often don’t have postmarks.

Gaa, who was appointed to the City Council in 2017, was appointed to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday.

“I still plan on being active in the community and helping out Belleville as much as I can,” Gaa said.

Rothweiler and Gaa both attended the recount of results in Belleville Precinct 35.

“I didn’t see anything that changes the outcome of the election,” Rothweiler said. “All the applications, ballots and mail-in votes were carefully reviewed.”

“It was a close, hard-fought race,” said Rothweiler, who noted he encouraged residents to mail in their ballots if they were not able to vote on Election Day or cast a ballot in the early voting process.

“This just show how important voting is,” he said. “And there were seven ballots that had no choice for alderman and that those seven ballots could have made the difference one way or another and it just shows how important it is that people vote for all offices.”

In the Ward 6 race, Gaa was supported by Mayor Mark Eckert while Rothweiler was supported by St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

Eckert has said he did not know why Kern would support Rothweiler, whose campaign fliers criticized Gaa and Eckert.

Kern has not responded to four requests from the BND to explain why he and his family donated $15,600 to the political action committee that backed Rothweiler. It was Kern who appointed Eckert as mayor in 2004. At that time, Kern had just won the County Board position and Eckert was an alderman.

Fairview Heights recount

Lowry was represented by Belleville attorney Brian Flynn during the Fairview Heights Ward 2 recount of Caseyville Precinct 15 on Tuesday.

After consulting with Lowry, Flynn said they decided to drop any plans to challenge the results.

LeFlore, who attended the recount on Tuesday, called the process “lengthy” but accepted that Lowry had the legal right to ask for the recount.

LeFlore said he wants to be “a voice for Ward 2, working for the people, keeping the citizens aware of crime in the area, implementing programs for the youth and the elderly.

“Anything I can do to move the city as a whole body forward, I’ll be on board with that as well.”

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.