She had also joined the historical ranks of politicians who may have been thwarted by negative campaigning. The Roeland Park mayoral candidate found herself on the business end of tactics not regularly seen in cities that size.
Roeland Park residents last week opened their mailboxes to find a one-page anonymous mailer that took Mau, a city councilwoman from 2003 to 2007, to task for codes violations, questioned her education credentials, and charged that she'd skipped out on bills and written rubber checks.
There's no way to know whether the mailer had a direct influence on the election's outcome. After helping oust current Roeland Park Mayor Adrienne Foster in the primary election, Mau lost to Mayor-elect Joel Marquardt by a 70-30 margin. (In an e-mail to The Pitch, Marquardt disavows any role in the mailer.)
"You can't respond to it," says Susan Hunt, a local lawyer who worked on Mau's campaign. "There wasn't enough time."
Reached by The Pitch, Mau didn't have much to say, other than to ask why the paper submitted a March 25 open-records request to have a look at codes violations at her Roeland Park home. (That's what newspapers do: Try to verify information they receive.) Mau said she was sending The Pitch's records request to Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe as part of a complaint about the campaign flier.
Howe has confirmed to The Pitch that his office is looking into Mau's complaint. But there may not be much to investigate.
Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, tells The Pitch that Kansas laws are silent about whether campaign literature in races involving second-class cities must carry a "paid for" tag. "Second-class city" is legalese for "cities Roeland Park's size."
And then there's the mailer's actual content.
It accuses Mau of financial recklessness for having been sued 10 times for unpaid bills and bounced checks. It also claims that she was cited for multiple codes violations. And it says she was dishonest with The Kansas City Star in a 2007 candidate questionnaire, in which she said she holds a master's degree from the University of Houston.
All of these have varying degrees of truth.
Mau has indeed been listed as a defendant in Johnson County District Court cases involving bad accounts or unpaid bills, stretching from 1993 to 2011, according to online court records. Hunt tells The Pitch that some of those cases resulted from Mau's being a victim of identity theft. But the 18-year timeline and the fact that some of the cases led to judgments against Mau strain the credulity of that claim. Another one, Hunt says, was from cosigning on a lease.
The Pitch found nothing too eye-popping in Mau's eight codes notices and violations, which run from 2009 to 2012 and include unlicensed pets, yard debris in the utility easement behind her house, and three notices for parking a car with a flat tire in her driveway. (She really ought to get that tire fixed as a practical matter.)
The Star reported March 21, 2007, that it had been unable to verify Mau's University of Houston master's degree. Hunt said a correction was later published when the Star verified the degree, but The Pitch could not verify that correction in the Star's database. The paper did publish again in 2011 that she had a degree at the University of Houston as a matter of fact, and there's no record of the paper walking back that claim. The Pitch has not yet been able to independently verify Mau's degree, pending a response from the university.