Three Dayton residents have filed a lawsuit against Town Chairman Chris Klein, Supervisor Glen Newsome and the Little Hope Lake District.
The suit challenges the election results for the lake district Board of Commissioners.
Filed by Don and Linda Holtebeck and Cathy Miller, the civil complaint alleges Klein committed “election fraud” by not allowing all eligible property owners to vote at a Nov. 9 special meeting of the lake district electors.
“Chris Klein’s actions in refusing to let those persons authorized to vote as property owners in the district as stated in (state statutes) disenfranchised the rights of Wisconsin voters and created election fraud,” the civil complaint says.
The purpose of the Nov. 9 meeting was to replace the three-member appointed district board with a five-member board, with three of its members elected by lake district property owners.
At the meeting, Klein allowed only one vote to be cast per property, rather than allowing all property owners to vote.
According to the state laws cited in the complaint, any person who is a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and whose name either appears on the property tax roll or has title to real estate within the lake district is qualified to vote at a meeting of electors.
The suit also claims that at the time of the Nov. 9 special meeting, the old lake district boundaries were still in effect.
When the Little Hope Lake District was initially formed on Oct. 28, 2012, there were 183 parcels within its boundaries.
The district’s boundaries and parcels were recorded with the Waupaca County Register of Deeds office on Nov. 5, 2012.
On Oct. 19, 2013, the lake district’s Board of Commissioners, which at that time was still comprised of the three Dayton Town Board members, voted 2-1 to detach about 130 parcels from the district.
At both the Oct. 19 board meeting and the Nov. 9 meeting, Supervisor Lee Schroeder questioned the meeting’s legality. He is the only town board member not named in the suit.
As of Nov. 22, the district’s new boundaries had not been recorded with the Register of Deeds office.
“When they came in with the second one, it didn’t meet state statutes,” Register of Deeds Michael Mazemke said. “They never came back.”
The suit contends the petition requesting an elected board was also invalid.
Under state law, a lake district board may be changed from an appointed board to an elected board if 20 percent of the property owners within the district sign a petition requesting the change.
According to the civil complaint, a valid petition would require the signatures of 20 percent of the property owners whose parcels were within the boundaries as of Nov. 5, 2012. Since the petition for an elected board was invalid, the election was “legally null and void,” according to the suit.
The suit asks the judge to prohibit the district from recognizing its newly elected board of commissioners.
It also seeks to declare that any future voting within the district include all 183 parcels recognized in the original boundaries.
Klein would not comment on the legal action taken against him.
Eric Hendrickson, the town’s attorney, would also not comment at this time.