Fifth Ward council candidates' backgrounds, issues summarized

Thursday, January 31, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:25 p.m. CST, Sunday, February 3, 2013

COLUMBIA — Three Fifth Ward candidates for the Columbia City Council shared their policy views and biographies with the Missourian. Voters will decide through a special election scheduled on Feb. 5, which candidate will fill the council vacancy left by Helen Anthony, who resigned late last year.

Here's a look at the candidates:

Susan "Tootie" Burns

Susan Tootie Burns

Address: 117 W. Burnam Road

Personal: Age 47. She is married to Richard Burns. They have three daughters, ages 12, 15 and 17.

Education: Bachelor's degree in personal financial planning, MU

Occupation: Resident artist at Orr Street Studios

On the web: She also has a YouTube channel.


Mark H. Jones

Mark Jones

Address: 1151 Azoros Drive

Personal: Age 36. He is married to Sharon Jones. They have a 17-year-old daughter.

Education: Bachelor's degree in political science and communications, Central Methodist University, Fayette

Occupation: Staff member of the Missouri National Education Association

On the web:, @jonesmarkh,

Laura Nauser

Laura Nauser

Address: 5707 Bridlewood Court

Personal: Age 49. She is married to Greg Nauser. They have a grown daughter and a son who is a senior at Rock Bridge High School.

Education: Bachelor's degree in political science, Columbia College

Occupation: Part-time program assistant at the Robert L. Perry Juvenile Justice Center

On the web:



  • Burns: President of the University of Missouri Club; member and past president of the Columbia Art League; past president and board member of the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences Alumni Organization; vice chair of Orr Street Studios board of directors; member and past secretary of the Grasslands Neighborhood Association; board member of the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology; secretary of the North Village Arts District; member of the Boone County Medical Society Alliance.
  • Jones: Serves on the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission, which makes recommendations for how the city and county should distribute grants to social services organizations. As a former consultant, Jones advised businesses and non-profit clients.
  • Nauser: Served six years as the Fifth Ward councilwoman — from 2005 to 2011 — including two years as mayor pro tem. She is a past president of the Republican women's club and was involved with the Achievement Gap Committee for Columbia Public Schools. She is a committee member of the Anne E. Casey Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court and is a court-appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2010.

Leadership philosophy

  • Burns: "My view of leadership is to serve the Fifth Ward and the city of Columbia in an open and accessible manner as a voice for its neighborhoods and citizens."
  • Jones: Advocates what he calls "the Columbia Model," which involves bringing stakeholders together to work proactively to solve community problems.
  • Nauser: "I believe that people must take responsibility for their actions. I prefer to look at the big picture and delegate details to the professionals with expertise. Property rights is the key to a successful democracy, and government should respect and protect this right."

Motivation for seeking office

  • Burns: "I have lived in Columbia pretty much since I graduated, and I've served on numerous boards, committees and university entities." Burns said she had been approached over the years to run for City Council. "I don't have any aspirations other than City Council. I love Columbia. I think I can be a good part of the process, and as Columbia grows, I can help make good choices from a community perspective. I think that is what all the boards and community service that I've been involved with have prepared me for, to be a good councilperson."
  • Jones: "I have a record of working with businesses and nonprofit groups bringing people together and solving our shared problems. Columbia is a dynamic community and a great place to live. However, our City Council is reactive rather than proactive when addressing issues facing Columbia. We must move from a management by crisis to a more proactive and forward thinking approach. The Fifth Ward needs a councilperson who is focused on the right priorities: creating jobs, being accountable with our tax dollars, meeting the needs of our entire community."
  • Nauser: "I really enjoyed serving the public when I was on the council for six years. I like volunteering and giving to the community." She has been disappointed that youth and crime issues have not been sufficiently addressed. "I would like to work on those issues again."

Power lines

  • Burns: Doesn't support any of the three options identified by city staff. Prefers that staff prepare a new plan involving a mix of underground and above-ground lines.
  • Jones: Supports Option B2, which relies more on 69-kilovolt lines. It also would move most of the lines farther west, away from neighborhoods and closer to the MKT Trail.
  • Nauser: Supports Option A, but only after consulting with constituents. This option uses more 161-kilovolt lines; most would be strung along Route K, Nifong and Scott boulevards, and Grindstone Parkway.

Tax incentives

  • Burns: Supports using incentives sparingly. Supports tax-increment financing for historical buildings but worries about TIF's impact on financing of public services. Said she would "never say never" to revisiting enhanced enterprise zones.
  • Jones: Supports highly targeted incentives to encourage job creation and further progress on developing a knowledge-based economy in Columbia. Supports tax-increment financing but concerned about impact on other government entities. Supports clawback provisions that would return public money invested in developments that fail.
  • Nauser: Supports use of economic incentives to help the city remain competitive. Supports tax-increment financing for hotel redevelopment but not for new development. Supports EEZs if property owners volunteer to have their property declared blighted.


  • Burns: Advocates community policing. Supports more funding for police if budgetary constraints allow it. Supports regular reports from police chief to council and public, with solutions and corrective action following.
  • Jones: Supports "pulled levers" and public health approaches that involve the entire community in solving crime and law enforcement challenges. Supports performance reviews of police department and increased accountability, including switching out personnel for failure to perform.
  • Nauser: Supports effort to eliminate the influence of gangs in Columbia. Supports coordinating police and juvenile offender management approach to crime prevention.

Airport upgrades

  • Burns: Supports cautious approach to airport upgrades. Wants to enhance reliability of air service and increase customer use of flights. Interested in establishing a regional airport authority.
  • Jones: Supports upgrades to city's infrastructure to keep pace with city's and MU's growth. Wants to develop the airport as a community asset for job creation. Supports use of revenue guarantees only after airlines provide evidence of a route's profitability.
  • Nauser: Supports upgrading airport to attract out-of-town businesses and tourists. Supports coordinated regional aviation policy and funding with neighboring municipalities. Has some reservations about revenue guarantees for airlines but generally supports them.

Bus system

  • Burns: Supports making bus system more convenient, affordable and attractive.
  • Jones: Supports a customized solution to make system financially viable and useful.
  • Nauser: Supports residents' demand for a financially solvent and viable system.

Read more on the Fifth Ward's special election.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Mark Flakne January 31, 2013 | 1:37 p.m.

It's all about integrity...

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