There’s no question it takes thick skin to be a politician. But with civic election finances now public, voters can get the skinny on the cost to win, or lose, a seat in local government.
Under the Election Act, all campaign financial disclosures had to be filed with Elections BC within 90 days of the Nov. 15 election. Now that the Feb. 13 deadline has passed, financial reports and political contributions in the province’s municipal election can be viewed online at elections.bc.ca.
While there doesn’t appear to be a recurring trend in cost versus number of votes, locally it seems that the larger the populace the higher the expense.
From a pool of 5,623 voters, Trail Mayor Mike Martin’s campaign tipped the scales at just over $10,000. The first term mayor covered more than 60 per cent of related expenses himself, mostly to advertise on the radio and to print brochures, signs and billboards.
Of the four Trail mayoral candidates, Doug Jones was second behind Martin. His campaign costs were about $8,200, which for the most part, were covered by contributions from various union entities.
Third in the race, was Ian McLeod, though his costs were nil – no funds collected and no funds spent. Roger Catalano, spent almost $700 from his own pocket to run, with most of the money used for signs, brochures and to advertise in the newspaper.
The mayor’s race in Rossland drew a voter turnout of 62 per cent from the city’s 2,587 eligible constituents.
The costs were similar to Trail, but with a very large monetary expanse between Mayor Kathy Moore’s expenses and contributions versus adversary Jill Spearn’s.
With one Rossland corporation’s contribution of $5,000, Moore’s overall expenditures and income balanced at $7,970. Spearn, on the other hand, finished well behind Moore both in votes and in campaign costs. Her financial summary shows $1,859 in expenses and one individual contribution of $1,574.
Within the area’s smaller communities, winning the mayor’s seat generally cost under $1,000.
Of Warfield’s three mayoral candidates, Ted Pahl, a rookie politician won the top seat for the least amount of dollars.
Pahl garnered about 70 per cent of the popular vote with $225 in contributions, which included a $150 corporate donation.
His total expenditures were $223 to pay for signs and advertising brochures.
Second in the race was veteran politician Bill Trewhella, who used $1,000 from his own pocket to cover expenses related to advertising and other incidentals.
James Nelson, a seasoned Warfield mayor and councillor spent $650 in personal funds to advertise on the radio, in the newspaper and on printed materials.
Montrose’s two-candidate mayoral race had incumbent Joe Danchuk using $700 of his own money to pay toward advertising, while second-place Griff Welsh’s campaign cost about $500, with half of that used in a reception for election helpers.
Similarly in Salmo, Mayor Stephen White spent about $485 to garner almost 50 per cent of the village’s popular vote.
Henry Huser used $350 of his own money to gain about 39 per cent of the vote. Dennis McLean followed in third, however he didn’t spend a dime or list any expenses, according to the Elections BC financial statement.
Watch the Trail Times this week for a follow-up story reviewing councillor and school district trustee costs and expenses.