OLDSMAR — Two candidates running for City Council Seat 3 filed amended campaign finance reports this week after failing to record loans they made to their own campaigns.
Reports from Oct. 29 to Feb. 1 show Dan Saracki, 53, did not list $3,247.13 he loaned himself to open his campaign account. His wife, Paula Saracki, acts as his treasurer.
"We didn't know to record that," he said, adding he had previously discussed the loan with the Oldsmar city clerk. "It was an honest mistake."
Suda Yantiss-Colón, 50, did not list $90 she loaned herself.
"I just forgot," she said. "I'm not in a hurry to pay myself back."
Both candidates revised their campaign finance reports after the Tampa Bay Times pointed out the omissions.
Mistakes happen when political newcomers are running for office, said City Clerk Ann Stephan. No one intended deception or harm, she said.
State law requires the treasurer designated by anyone running for public office to report every source of campaign money for public record, even if it is loaned out of the candidate's pocket.
Gabby McGee, 26, Yantiss-Colón and Saracki — all new at running for office — are competing to serve the two years remaining in council member Doug Bevis' Seat 3. Bevis was automatically elected mayor when no one filed to run against him. He will assume his new role after the March 12 election.
A month before polls open, glossy campaign signs dot Tampa Road. Door hangers greet residents. Supporters walk neighborhoods, shaking hands and coaxing "likes" for candidate Facebook pages.
McGee leads in contributions with $4,630, records through the end of January show. Most of the money came from friends and family outside Oldsmar.
Her top donors include Bright House Networks executive Richard Rose ($200), the Florida Fire-PAC in Tallahassee ($250) and Hamilton Jones, president of Gaspar Properties in Tampa ($500).
"My campaign is very grass roots," said McGee, an IT account manager. "Volunteers and I have made phone calls, gone door to door and hosted regular meet-and-greets where we share ideas and concerns about the future of our city."
Yantiss-Colón, 50, has raised $1,113, finance reports before the amendment show. She received the maximum contribution of $500 from Acclaimed National Property Specialists in Oldsmar, where her husband, Hector Colón, is a subcontractor.
Tampa Bay Magazine contributed $100 to her campaign. Two editors there are friends, she said. "Our strategy is word of mouth," she said. "History of my years of service."
Yantiss-Colón, who owns sudaGraphics and Weddings By Suda, designs fliers from her home office on Arlington Avenue E.
"It's a tough economic challenge in this world to get donations," she said. "I'm doing as much work as I can on my own to keep the costs down for my supporters."
Saracki, owner of Impact Grafx Inc., had raised $517 in contributions in his earlier report. Eve's Restaurant, where he regularly eats lunch, donated $150. "I don't feel very comfortable calling people and asking them for money," he said. "I've been independent from a young age. I had two kids at 22, so I had to grow up quickly."
The bulk of Saracki's outside donations came as in-kind contributions for services rendered, including $128 worth of envelopes from Mayor Jim Ronecker's On Demand Printing. Ronecker is a neighbor, Saracki said. He designed the mayor's campaign website for free in 2009.
Saracki, who serves on the board of the Eastlake Oaks Community Development District, said he saved the $200 he was paid per meeting to fund his campaign.
"I wanted to pay for it myself," he said. "I wanted to earn it."
Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.