COLUMBIA — There are two seats up for grabs on the Boone County Commission, and two candidates have sizable financial leads over their opponents, according to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Republican Fred Parry raised almost $50,000 more than Democrat Brianna Lennon in the race to replace Karen Miller as the next Southern District Commissioner. He has pulled in a total of $83,032.52, while Lennon has raised $33,682.58.
Parry reported having $18,497 remaining in his campaign account. Lennon had $5,498.
For Northern Commissioner, incumbent Democrat Janet Thompson has raised over $24,000, including $4,680 since she ran unopposed in the Aug. 2 primary. She had $21,889 on hand. Her opponent, Republican Brenndan Riddles, who also ran unopposed, has raised no money.
“We’re very pleased,” said Parry.
Fred Parry, the Republican candidate for Boone County Southern District commissioner, has raised more than $83,000 for his campaign. You can view his latest finance report here.
He said he plans to raise more than $100,000 before the November election, and he was happy that so many of his donations came from local residents.
"It’s important to have the support of people that have some skin in the game,” he said.
Jerry Harl, a retired orthodontist who lives in Columbia, gave Parry's campaign $100. Harl said he's known the candidate for about 30 years and has been impressed both by Parry's past business success and his honesty.
"Voters should listen to him," Harl said. "He’ll do what’s best for the city and the county."
The largest donations given to Parry from individuals were $2,500 each from Coil Construction CEO Randy Coil and from Jay and Suzanne Gebhardt. Jay Gebhardt owns A Civil Group, where he works as an engineer. Former UM System President Tim Wolfe also chipped in $250.
Greg Steinhoff, who was on the Boone Hospital Center's Board of Trustees with Parry, donated $400. Steinhoff said he has been impressed by Parry's work on the board as well as his passion and effectiveness when Parry worked with the Columbia Housing Authority as a member of its board of commissioners.
"He's the most capable and most experienced candidate out there, in my opinion" Steinhoff said.
The largest single contribution overall to Parry's campaign was $5,000 from Spectrum Utilities, a company that has offices in Ohio, Maryland and Arizona. Parry said that donation stemmed from a Boone County farmer he met this year, who is connected to Spectrum.
Overall, Parry received 172 donations from individuals, although a few donations came from the same person. That total does not count small donations collected at fundraisers, where Parry raised an additional $15,980.
Lennon received more than 300 individual donations from people, although many people gave more than once. The few committees and companies that contributed included the Committees to Protect Missouri Families, AW Smith Law, and Friends of Jeremy LaFaver. LaFaver is the 25th District state representative.
Brianna Lennon, the Democratic candidate for Boone County Southern District commission, has raised about $33,000 for her campaign. You can see her latest finance report here.
Although Lennon raised less than Parry, she said fundraising has gone well. She plans to continue campaigning about government transparency, advocating for a more proactive policing by the Sheriff's Department and upgrading infrastructure. She said she's been encouraged by voter's "positive response" to her message.
LaFaver's committee gave Lennon $500. He said he has known Lennon for a long time both personally and professionally, and he was inspired to endorse her because she is "successfully smart" and is a leader in the community.
Betty Wilson, another donor and a Columbia attorney, said Lennon's education and experience makes her “uniquely” qualified for the seat she seeks. She brings a “fresh and energetic” approach to the issues the voters care about, Wilson said.
Columbia resident Diane Booth, along with her wife, Jeanne Sebaugh, gave a total of $500 to Thompson's campaign.
Janet Thompson, the Democratic incumbent seeking re-election as Boone County Northern District commissioner, has raised more than $24,000 for her campaign. You can see her latest finance report here.
“She really cares about all the people in Boone County,” Booth said about Thompson. Booth said Thompson "keeps her word," collaborates well with others, and has "a good sense of justice."
Booth also donated $500 to Lennon's campaign.
Thompson said she is concerned about outside "dark dollars" being injected into local races and, despite her current advantage, she doesn't know if she's in "good enough shape."
"It's sad when you think about all the good that could be done with this money instead of campaigns," Thompson said.
She said she's been told she'll need about $50,000 in total.
Riddles, Thompson's opponent, filed no report. He said he is not worried about the fundraising deficit. Riddles said he turned down donations in the past because he was not yet ready to form a committee, but will begin fundraising this weekend. He said he thought there was enough frustration in the community about decisions Thompson has made as Northern District commissioner that would more than make up for the lack of cash thus far.
“People in the circuit tell me I need more money than I think I need," Riddles said, "but I think a lot of those people want me to hire them.”
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.