FourChange spent $30,000 to influence Kelowna election

Group's endorsement of four candidates and targeting of four incumbents for defeat funded in large art by local business leaders.

The price of political change for was $30,766.

The now-defunct Kelowna political activist organization, led by a group of disgruntled local business leaders, says it raised $30,838 and spend $30,766 in its campaign to have four incumbent councillors ousted at the ballot box and replaced with four candidates it supported.

But while the quartet it targeted — Charlie Hodge, Michele Rule, Angela Reid-Nagy and Kevin Craig did not win re-election, only three of its chosen four candidates were successful. Gerry Zimmermann, Gail Given and Colin Basran won seats, placing first, second and third on the final tally. The fourth candidate, Carol Gran, failed in her bid to return to Kelowna city council after several years out of political life.

According to financial disclosure documents filed with the city, FourChange raised the money it spent on the campaign through individual and corporate donations and as well as in-kind contributions. It says it spent $21,000 on advertising and $9,415 on pamphlets and brochures.

The biggest single contributor was group spokesman and co-founder Nick Frost, owner of local internet news website Castanet. Frost donated $3,961 to the campaign and an in-kind donation of $900 is listed as coming from FMV, with N Frost listed as an officer, for designing the group’s website.

Other donors included $2,500 from Kelowna Flight Craft owner Barry Lapointe, a $500 donation from Francis Braam, another member of the FourChange steering committee, and $500 from his company Speth Enterprises. Michael Bird donated $1,200.

A total of 43 identified donors  put up  just over $22,000, while just over  $8,000 came from a number of unidentified contributors whose donations were less than $99 each. Individual donors who give less than $100 in a civic election campaign do not have to be publicly identified.

The 43 contributors who were identified contributed between $150 and $500 each. They includd both individual and corporate donors.

In addition to Hodge, Rule, Reid-Nagy and Craig, another incumbent councillor, Graeme James, also lost his bid for re-election despite Four Change originally supporting him.

In the end, only councillors were re-elected — Robert Hobson, Andre Blanleil and Luke Stack, all of whole had the support of FourChange. Newcomers Mohini Singh and Maxine DeHart were also elected.

The election also resulted in a change of mayor, with former mayor Walter Gray defeating incumbent Sharon Shepherd in a very close race race. During the campaign, FourChange claimed it was “staying neutral” in the mayor’s race.

Unhappy with how it felt Shepherd’s council was operating, what it choose to focus on and how it treated developers, FourChange said it wanted to see a change in “leadership” on council, a phrase it denied was directed at Shepherd.

Following the election, FourChange announced it had disbanded.

Canadidate who ran in the civic election have until have March 19 to file their financial disclosure papers. Financial disclosure, details donations received and expenses paid are required under the provincial elections act.

They are open to to the public and can be viewed at City Hall.


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