A group that made headlines during the Kelowna civic election by targeting four incumbent councillors for defeat before endorsing four candidates to replace them, says it knew going in that it be subject to financial disclosure.
FourChange.org, which endorsed successful councillor candidates Gerry Zimmermann, Colin Basran and Gail Given, as well as unsuccessful candidate Carol Gran, spent heavily to advertise its endorsements in the waning days of the campaign.
Prior to identifying the quartet, it sent out a letter calling for the ouster of incumbent councillors Charlie Hodge, Michele Rule, Angela Reid-Nagy and Kevin Craig. It said it wanted to see incumbents Robert Hobson, Andre Blanleil, Luke Stack and Graeme James re-elected. Of those four, only James failed to win re-election.
Brad Conquist, who sat on the steering committee of FourChange.org, said going into the campaign the group did not have a plan but it realized it would be subject to the province’s financial reporting rules that require groups that spend more than $500 to file financial disclosure documents.
And he said the documents will likely be filed prior to the March 19 deadline. Once they are filed they become public.
While Conquist would not revel in advance how much the group, which has now disbanded, spent, he said it will come out in the financial disclosures.
Some in the community have estimated FourChange spent close to $100,000 based on the amount of advertising it did.
Conquist said despite his group not having a plan when it started— other than its desire to see four incumbents not re-elected—the group was happy with the outcome.
One of its goals was for what it deemed better leadership from the city council and while it went to great pains to stress it was staying out of the mayoral race, at least one other member of the steering committee said publicly he thought challenger Walter Gray had been a good mayor in the past and he would not be disappointed to see him unseat incumbent Sharon Shepherd. Gray defeated Shepherd by just 400 votes.
The city has taken it on itself to contact groups it feels will be subject to the financial disclosure requirements and let them know about the provincial reporting rules.
Earlier this week, city clerk Stephen Fleming said FourChange.org officals had been notified along with other groups that endorsed candidates, such as the Mission Residents Association and the Canadian Union Of Public Employees.