COLUMBIA — When Fifth Ward City Council candidates Mark Jones and Laura Nauser meet with members of the Central Missouri Development Council on Monday, fellow candidate Susan "Tootie" Burns won't be there.
That's because she wasn't invited.
"I received no emails and no phone calls," Burns said. "I think this is more of a reflection on the (development council) not being inclusive than a reflection on my campaign."
Nauser said she got a "last-minute" invitation to the event by email on Friday night. The event seemed impromptu, she said.
"It seems like all three of us should be there," Nauser said.
Late Saturday night, Burns sent an email to the development council's listserv explaining that she was not invited to the "forum."
"I am offended that I was not asked to participate. I am serious about this campaign and serving ALL of Columbia," Burns wrote. "... I wanted you to know that the reason I am not at the forum is because I was never asked to participate."
Don Stamper, executive director of the development council, said Burns wasn't asked to come to the reception because she has never reached out to the council.
"We don't have a relationship with Ms. Burns," Stamper said. "She hasn't communicated with us to try to learn the issues that we care about."
Stamper listed the city budget, the future of Columbia's infrastructure and job growth as relevant matters in the development council's eyes.
"It concerns us when candidates claim to represent 100 percent of the community but don't do all the research or seek out all the aspects of that community," Stamper said.
Jones said he has reached out to the development council throughout his campaign.
"Just like everyone else, (the development council) wants someone who is accessible and open to the issues that they are facing," Jones said.
Burns' use of the word "forum" in her email was incorrect, Stamper said. The event is not a question-and-answer session but an opportunity for development council members to get acquainted with Jones and Nauser, he said.
Burns, however, said she would have appreciated a chance to attend.
"It would have been a great opportunity to meet the membership and have that conversation about what the council finds important," Burns said.
The special election for the Fifth Ward seat is Tuesday.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.