Candidates disclose funds raised before election

Saturday, April 5, 2008 | 8:26 p.m. CDT; updated 10:13 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

First Ward incumbent Almeta Crayton reported receiving the most money — more than $6,700 — in her bid for re-election, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Boone County Clerk’s Office on March 31.

All candidates for municipal elections who have raised funds or have a standing committee for a campaign must file reports periodically before an election. The most recent report was due eight days before Tuesday’s election.

Crayton heavily invested in producing fliers and signs, which accounted for nearly a third of her expenses.

“You don’t get a discount price when you’re running for office,” she said.

Paul Sturtz raised the second highest amount for the First Ward race with $3,550. The two remaining candidates, Karen Baxter and John Clark, reported receiving $685 and $220, respectively.

Sturtz’ contributions during the last filing period amounted to $1,288. They were from supporters giving $100 or less.

While Crayton said she reimbursed her volunteers with food and gas money, Sturtz hired a campaign worker, which accounted for $460 of his campaign costs to date.

Strongly opposed to mass media advertising, Sturtz was critical of heavy campaign spending on ads, calling it “inefficient.”

Since he needs to reach only voters in the First Ward, he said he would be throwing away five out of every six dollars if he spent his money on outreach through mass media.

“The vast majority of the money I’m spending is on yard signs and door hangers,” he said.

Sturtz said he also relied on a door-to-door strategy to meet First Ward residents.

“It’s about meeting voters one-on-one, having meet-and-greets in different houses all over the ward,” Sturtz said. “That’s what we’ve done.”

All the candidates running for First Ward spent large portions of their budgets on traditional means of attaining name recognition, such as yard signs and public meetings, the reports indicate.

Baxter, Clark and Sturtz also depended on personal Web sites to post their positions and appeal for votes.

“I did spend to get my Web site up, more so than in previous years,” Baxter said. “I thought it was a way to take my message to people who primarily use the Web.”

Baxter said she decided early on, however, that her car would be a more effective way to reach voters than yard signs.

Her bright yellow Suzuki literally became the central vehicle of her campaign. She said she drove miles in order to reach people individually, talking to them even when she was running errands.

“It’s like a big billboard that moves,” Baxter said.

Clark said campaign fund disclosure is more relevant to statewide or national elections. He said reports at that level are a “key element in restricting large money in electoral politics.”

The Fifth Ward incumbent, Laura Nauser, said she didn’t solicit funds this year and dissolved her election committee after she was elected in 2005. She is the sole candidate running for the Fifth Ward seat.

Among those running for Columbia’s Board of Education, Gail “Hap” Hairston, has received $3,100 to run his campaign, the largest amount among the candidates. He said nearly 50 people contributed to his campaign.

“In a larger area like Columbia, you have to do something to get our names out there,” Hairston said. When campaigning in larger school districts, he said it’s difficult to go door-to-door because of the sheer number of people in the district.

Ines Segert, who raised $2,938 for this election, said she knew she would have to make an extra effort to gain name recognition against the incumbents.

“I tried to be smart about spending money,” Segert said. She said she estimated the cost of her campaign before she began raising funds.

School Board Vice President Darrin Preis said he was able to reuse yard signs from his 2005 campaign, but he still had quite a few people who contributed funds.

His reported $950 in receipts — 75 percent were contributions of $100 or less — enabled him to mail 2,500 postcards, he said. Most of his funding went to postage.

“I didn’t do door-to-door this time around,” Preis said, hoping his status as an incumbent would help. “Hopefully that doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

Tom Rose, the other incumbent, did not report any contributions for his re-election. He said he only purchased a newspaper ad.

As of Thursday, School Board candidates Arch Brooks and Rosie Tippin had not submitted their reports to the Clerk’s Office. A candidate can be fined $100 per day for each day the report is late, according the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Arch Brooks declined to confirm whether he had filed a report.

Rosie Tippin said Friday that her treasurer, Charles Allen, had filed the report; however, the Missourian was not able to obtain it.

Tippin said she did not know exactly what had been raised.

“I just told them not to overspend,” she said.

Two committees, one for the $77 million city sewer bond issue and a similar committee for the Boone County Regional Sewer District, filed reports by deadline. Both committees raised all their funds during the latest filing period.

Yes for Better City Sewers received $5,229, while Yes for County Sewers took in $10,350.

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