Donations flood in for MWRD candidates

Published1/29/2010 12:01 AM

The race for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District shows sizable differences in the amount of funds raised among the nine Democrats running for three spots in Tuesday's primary.

A look at recently filed campaign finance reports also indicated six candidates received donations from companies that were current or former district contractors.


The top fundraiser was incumbent Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, who received $288,830 between July and December and ended the reporting period with $128,435 on hand. Spyropoulous, a Chicago attorney, was given $350 by MWRD consultant Greeley & Hansen. She was not available for comment.

• Todd Connor, a Chicago management consultant, received $69,135 and finished with $39,699.

• Michael Alvarez, a Chicago public affairs consultant, received $52,696 in the reporting period and ended the year with $5,516. MZI Building Services, which has done work for the district, donated $1,000 to his campaign. Alvarez was not available for comment.

• Wallace Davis, Chicago Department of Water Management general superintendent, raised $46,650 and ended with $36,845. He received $5,000 from a district contractor - Benchmark Construction. Davis said he had been friends with Benchmark President Mike Smith before the company started. If a contract involving Benchmark came up before the district that hadn't gone out for bid, Davis said he would recuse himself.

• Stella Black, a Chicago property tax consultant, raised $33,689 and ended the year with $12,733. She was given a $750 contribution from engineering firm and district contractor Christopher Burke. Black said she met with Burke representatives when she was deciding whether to run so she could better understand MWRD issues knowing that they "would never expect my decision process be influenced by any contributions made to my campaign."

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• Kathleen Mary O'Reilley, a River Forest administrative assistant, received $21,900 and ended the period with $234.

• Kari Steele, a Chicago chemist, received $20,535 and ended the year with $13,434.

• Incumbent Barbara McGowan, a Chicagoan and former district employee, raised $15,600 and ended the period with $19,420 in funds. She received $1,500 from contractor Milhouse Engineering and Construction. "Donations from companies, individuals or organizations would absolutely have no affect on decisions I make involving future contracts," she said.

• Maureen Kelly, a Chicago executive director of Community and Government Relations at St. Xavier University, received $13,130 in contributions this period and ended the year with $6,408.

She got a $200 donation from McDonough Associates, a district contractor. Kelly said the contribution was taken by a friend during a fundraiser and she hadn't personally accepted it. Asked if it would influence any decisions, she said "absolutely not."

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