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Fifth Ward candidates disclose campaign donations, spending

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | 7:31 p.m. CST; updated 10:07 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This story has been modified to correct information about contributions to Susan "Tootie" Burns' campaign.

COLUMBIA — Campaign finance reports filed Monday by candidates for the Fifth Ward seat on the Columbia City Council show that one candidate has garnered more financial support than her competitors — in both sum and number of donations.

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Candidates Susan "Tootie" Burns, Mark Jones and Laura Nauser filed the latest finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Monday, eight days before next Tuesday's election.

Burns reported collecting $8,885 in receipts for the period that began Dec. 23, for a total of about $20,000 for the entire election season. Mark Jones listed new contributions of $6,920, for a total of $18,250 for the election cycle. Laura Nauser kept pace with Jones during the period, raising $6,974. Her total for the campaign is $7,287.

Burns, Jones and Nauser are competing to fill the seat left vacant by Helen Anthony, who resigned in November.

Burns reported receiving 139 itemized donations during the most recent reporting period, five times more than Jones and 10 times more than Nauser. On average, each donor gave just less than $64. Several, though, contributed more.

Including contributions from the previous reporting period, Dave Baugher and Jaqueline Verdun together have given Burns' campaign a total of $400, including $100 in the most recent reporting period. Robbie and Ali Price also contributed $100 during the recent reporting period, bring their total to $400 as well.*

Burns has also received money from several familiar figures in local and state politics:

Judy Weitkemper and her husband, Bill Weitkemper, a candidate for the Fourth Ward council seat, gave $25.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe and her husband, Mike Slead, gave $100.

Russ and Mary Still gave $50. Russ Still is a former member of the Columbia Board of Education and Mary Still is a former state representative.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, gave $150.

Still, Burns has maintained her neighborhood ties. John Ott said he was impressed by the interest Burns showed in her neighbors as a member of the board for the Grasslands Neighborhood Association. That’s why, when she approached him, Ott agreed to be her campaign treasurer.

Ott listed intelligence and open-mindedness as qualities that make Burns an attractive candidate. If she is elected to council, he expects that Burns will continue to look out for neighborhood interests, in both the Fifth Ward and citywide.

Burns still has $17,251 remaining in campaign contributions. That’s about five times more than what both Jones and Nauser have left. So far, her largest expenses are $1,432 for yard signs, about $850 for printing and mailing, $500 for Progressive Political Partners' consulting service and $996 for advertising with the Columbia Daily Tribune.

"I have had a disciplined budget for my campaign, but I've been overwhelmed by the number of donations," Burns said. "Almost no one has said that they are unable to contribute."

Burns also said she solicited most of the individual donations on her own.

Five of the 25 listed donations on Jones’ campaign finance report equal or exceed $500. More than half the donations listed on the report appear to come from outside Columbia and Boone County.

“My donors are connected to Columbia because many either graduated from the university and went on to start businesses or they went to law school here,” Jones said. “They still care about the city, and they believe in my ability to bring the community together.”

Attorney Aaron Smith gave the highest amount at $2,500. His address is listed on the report as Blackwater.

“I am a resident of Columbia, and I pay taxes to Columbia, but I grew up in Blackwater. It’s a small town, and I still own property there,” Smith said.

Smith said that he sat down and talked with Jones after his wife, who is a friend of the candidate's, told him that Jones was seeking the council seat. They talked about Jones' political vision, and he decided to help the candidate so he could buy television commercials.

“City Council has taken steps to address growth management, but there’s still some reluctance to accept the reality that growth is happening so quickly,” Smith said. “(Mark Jones) understands these growth spurts and will be able to take a proactive approach.”

Jones’ largest expenses have been on advertising, according to the report.

“The vast majority of our resources have gone to communicating with voters and supporting our grassroots organizations,” Jones said.

The report lists two expenses of $10,000 to Axiom, LLC, a Columbia-based advertising agency. Jones has made payments of $8,000 on each of those expenses, the report read. One expense of around $910 has been made to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Jones has about $3,769 remaining in his campaign treasury.

Nauser's campaign finance report lists 13 donations. The vast majority come from residents and business owners in and around the Columbia area. Orscheln Management Company gave the largest of Nauser's donations at $500. Other donors include attorney Jennifer Bukowsky and Gregory Steinhoff of Veterans United Home Loans.

Nauser's report shows she has spent nearly $1,900 on campaign signs and just more than $1,000 on media advertising.

Nauser has $3,141 remaining in her campaign fund. She could not be reached for comment.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.


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