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Columbia Missourian

Allison becomes Columbia resident, files for mayor on same day

By John Farmer de la Torre
January 12, 2013 | 5:35 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Sam Allison didn't become a resident of Columbia until a few hours before he filed his candidacy for mayor on Tuesday.

Allison was a Jefferson City resident until Tuesday morning, when he signed a sublease on an apartment on Old 63 South. At 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, he submitted a petition to City Clerk Sheela Amin to run for mayor. The deadline to file his candidacy was 5 p.m. that day.

Allison joins former mayoral candidate Sid Sullivan and incumbent Mayor Bob McDavid in the race, which will be decided in the April 2 municipal election.

Amin said on Friday that neither city ordinances nor the city charter establish any minimum length of residency for those who want to seek elected office in the city. Nor do they address whether a candidate can collect signatures on a nominating petition before he or she establishes residency.

Allison said Friday that he did collect signatures on his petition before becoming an official Columbia resident. The city charter requires that candidates for mayor collect signatures from at least 100 and no more than 150 registered voters in the city.

"The wording on the residency requirement is very vague," Allison said. "I asked around if anyone was going to file against McDavid. It was a real scramble since no one else was going to get involved."

Sullivan said he was surprised by his competitor's move.

"I think it takes a lot of chutzpah if you come to town and establish residency and file all in the same day," he said. Sullivan has lived in Columbia since 2002.

Allison said he's made audacious political moves before. In 2006, for example, he defeated a six-term incumbent to become the Monroe County recorder in Indiana.

"I ran a very uphill campaign in 2006, so this is something I have done before," he said.

Allison served as the county recorder until 2010, when he won a seat on the Monroe County Council, according to a dossier he provided.

Allison left the county council when his wife took a job in Jefferson City. He said he became involved and interested in Columbia public affairs during weekly visits to the city after his election to the board of directors of the Columbia chapter of Democracy for Missouri.

Allison's wife still lives in Jefferson City. In an email to the Missourian on Saturday, he said they will address that situation after the election.

"In the event that I do pull off an improbable victory, then at that point my wife and I will address the personal issue about living arrangements," he wrote. "As have many families who live and/or work in Columbia and/or Jefferson City. I, of course, will remain a Columbia resident."

Sullivan said Columbia voters are serious about their candidates for public office.

"I think this is an anomaly," Sullivan said. "It is amazing that somebody would come to town and say 'I can run because the charter will allow me to run,' but whether they can run a campaign and establish credibility with Columbia voters is doubtful."

Allison holds a masters degree from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, according to his dossier.

"I think it's time for some new ideas in the mayor's office," Allison said.

McDavid could not be reached for comment.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.