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Gray outspent Shepherd 2:1 to win Kelowna mayor's chair

Walter Gray outspent Sharon Shepherd nearly two to one to reclaim the mayor’s chair in last November’s Kelowna civic election.

Gray, who served as mayor from 1996 to 2005 before losing to Shepherd, spent $56,920 on his comeback campaign, compared to Shepherd’s $29,729. And in doing so, Gray increased the amount he spent in 2005 by about $10,000, or 17 per cent.

“Going in, I thought it shouldn’t cost more than what I spent last time,” said Gray on Monday, the deadline for filing financial disclosure papers for the 2011 civic election.

The vote, which was a narrow victory for Gray that came down to the last polling station reporting on election night.

According to the financial disclosure documents filed with the city on Monday, Gray raised $57,490 in campaign donations, including $13,600 of his own money.

His biggest campaign contributors included $5,000 from solar panel maker Sunlogics Inc., $2,500 from Vancouver company BFL Canada and $1,000 each from local developer Al Stober and three businesses—Imperial Parking, Don Folk Chevrolet and the Pheasant and Quail Pub in South Pandosy.

His campaign also received $1,000 from Castanet owner Nick Frost, who was a leader of the FourChange.org group, that lobbied for the defeat of incumbent councillors Charlie Hodge, Kevin Craig, Angela Reid-Nagy and Michele Rule.

During the campaign Frost insisted Fourchange.org was “neutral” on the issue of the mayor’s race and bristled at the suggestion his group wanted Shepherd replaced by Gray.

Gray said despite spending much more than Shepherd, his narrow victory—about 400 votes— was a clear indication he did not “buy” the election.

While his financial disclosure documents included 3 1/2 pages listing 96 donors who gave more than $100 to his campaign and a general notation that an unidentified 100 donors made contributions of less than $100, Shepherd’s list of donors who gave more than $100 was less than one page in length with about 35 names listed.

Her donors were mainly individuals, with her biggest donors being herself and her husband who contributed $14,161 to her campaign. Her son Sean donated $3,500 as an in-kind contribution for work on her election website and the Daily Courier contributed a $750 in-kind donation to her campaign as well.

She also received a $200 donation from the Amalgamated Transit Union, the union that represents Kelowna bus drivers.

During the campaign, she was criticized for getting a $500 donation from the local firefighters union despite the fact she returned the money when she learned it had come from a union representing city workers.

Unlike Gray and several of the council candidates, both successful and defeated, Shepherd did not get a $200 donation from the Vancouver-based Aquillini Group, a company that is planning to build a 24-storey residential tower on Bernard Avenue. It made a similar donation to many of the candidates in the race.

The company gave money both to candidates who were supported and opposed by FourChange.org.

As previously reported, FourChange.org spent just over $30,000 to promote successful councillor candidates Gerry Zimmermann, Colin Basran and Gail Given as well as unsuccessful candidate Carol Gran.

Of the winning candidates in the councillor race, Basran raised and spent the most at $15,638 and $14,302 respectively, followed by DeHart who raised and spent $12,348, Singh at $9,461 and $10,698, Zimmermann at $9,541 and $8,783, Given at $7,577 and $7,536, Andre Blanleil at $4,530 and $4,347 and Luke Stack at $2,979 and $2,891.

Hobson did not raise any money and spent nothing on his campaign.

Of the incumbents who lost their re-election bids, James spent the most at $9,522, followed by Hodge at $3,498, Craig at $2,235, and Rule at $1,569. With the filing deadline at 4 p.m. Monday, Reid-Nagy’s documents were not available prior to the Capital News an hour before the deadline.

By far the largest amount spent by an unsuccessful candidate was $19,591 by Shane Herrington. He finished 13th in the 40-person race for the eight councillor spots.

During the campaign, the issue of who both Gray and Shepherd accepted campaign donations from became and issue. While some of Gray’s donors are among the biggest developers in town, Gray defended the list noting it was pretty evenly spread among people and companies that gave more than $100 and less than $100.

Gray said as he did in his four previous mayoral election campaigns, he insisted on meeting and talking to any donor who gave more than $2,000 to his campaign before accepting it.

And he said he even rejected one attempt by a developer to give his campaign more than $2,000.

While he would not identify the would-be donor, Gray said he rejected the contribution because he believed the developer would be before council later this year with a proposed project.

Meanwhile, he revealed the company he spoke about during the campaign as one that wanted to do business here but felt it could not under the former city council as Sunlogics Inc, the firm that gave his campaign $5,000.

Gray said prior to the donation, he did not know the donor but learned about the companies situation after speaking to the company’s owner.

He said while the company has an office here, it manufactures its solar panels in the United States. “After talking to him, I was satisfied there was nothing I could do for him that would ever come up at council that would put me in an awkward spot,” said Gray.

 

 

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