COLUMBIA — Campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission in late December show that two of the three candidates for the Fifth Ward seat on the Columbia City Council have almost identical amounts of money.
Susan "Tootie" Burns and Mark Jones reported raising $11,365 and $11,330, respectively. Candidate Laura Nauser filed a statement of limited activity because her contributions at the time totaled less than $500. The reports were filed Dec. 26 and 27.
Burns, Jones and Nauser are competing to fill the seat left vacant by Helen Anthony, who resigned in November. The special election is Feb. 5.
Burns' report showed that all but one of her contributions were from Columbia residents. The exception was a $500 donation from her mother, Mary Lee Grone, who lives in Kirkwood.
Jones' contributors, on the other hand, include not only Columbia residents but also people from across the state and nation. He said he's not concerned that the number of donations from out of town will affect voters' perceptions of his candidacy because he has lived and worked in Columbia since graduating from college.
"Through work, I have friends who have been successful in their fields and gone on to do great things," Jones said. "And they heard I am running, so they are happy to help me out."
Jones said his out-of-town contributors care about his candidacy despite the fact they don't live here. "Many have done business in Columbia, and they care about its future."
Burns' contributions come from a broad spectrum of people, including medical professionals, teachers, attorneys, artists, a real estate developer, business owners and people who work in government or for nonprofit associations, banks and MU. Her MU contributors included Provost Brian Foster.
Attorney Jean Goldstein of Columbia was among those who donated money to Burns' campaign.
"She is the best candidate," Goldstein said. "I know her, I trust her, and she has a good head on her shoulders. She is concerned about our neighborhoods."
Burns' campaign had spent $1,104 by the time the report was filed; $500 of that was paid to Progressive Political Partners, a political consulting firm in Columbia.
Jones' contributions came from nonprofit associations and their employees, a web designer offering help with a website, attorneys, a student, union members, small business owners, retired people and consultants. He also has donations from other political campaign committees and from Boone County Treasurer Nicole Galloway.
Margaret Omero, a pollster who lives in Washington, D.C., donated $1,000 to Jones' campaign.
"I've known Mark for about 10 years," Omero said. "He is really committed to the values a lot of people share, like making communities good places to live, work and raise children. He's also a friend of mine, and I support him."
Jones had spent $325 by the time his report was filed.
Nauser held a fundraiser Wednesday evening and said it was successful. She said she's getting support from retired people, dentists, lawyers, business owners and people in real estate and banking.
"I had a late start, but by the time when all is said and done, I'll be right there," Nauser said. "My contributors are people who live in the ward, friends of mine, people that I have worked with in the past from a wide range of professions."
The next round of campaign finance reports are to be filed on Jan. 28, eight days before the election.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.