Ward 4 candidate funds own campaign with $12,000

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Ward 4 Tupelo City Council candidate Mark Hardin said Thursday he has contributed $12,000 of his own money to his political campaign.
That’s more than twice as much as any other council candidate reported in contributions, and the largest donation of any mayor or council contender to his or her own campaign. Hardin, 46, was the last candidate to file a campaign finance report, but the report filed Thursday was incomplete.
He has said he’ll quit his job as a teacher in Columbus to work full-time on the part-time position that pays $16,932 and said Thursday that he’s not really concerned about getting paid.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about what I’m going to do for the people.”
The special education teacher turned in his statement of economic interest to the Mississippi Ethics Commission more than two and a half months later than required by state law.
He did not turn in a completed campaign finance report due on Tuesday, also a requirement of state law. Hardin’s campaign finance report on Thursday did not list required itemized contributions and expenditures.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Hardin said he would complete the report sometime next week. He also said all contributions came from his income and personal savings.
Asked if he thought the amount of money he was putting into his own campaign was unusually high, Hardin said, “It may be unusual for Tupelo, but it’s not unusual. Because a person is black and running for a position doesn’t mean they don’t have a means to run for a position.”
A part-time minister, Hardin said his current employer is Columbus High School and he has been on sabbatical from preaching since January.
The only Tupelo candidate with similar contributions to his own campaign is mayoral candidate Jason Shelton, an attorney, who loaned his campaign $11,125.
By contrast, one of Hardin’s Ward 4 Democratic primary opponents, James Matkin, an armed security guard, 30, loaned his campaign $400 and reported contributions totaling $528.
Three-term incumbent Nettie Davis, 71, a Democrat and retired art teacher, described Hardin’s self-financing as “a unique situation.”
Davis, who turned in her campaign finance report late on Wednesday, reported raising $3,250 but did not list herself as a contributor.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com