Months before the last civic election, Coun. Luke Stack made a decision about how he was going to run his campaign.
He was going to be frugal. No campaign donations would be accepted and as little as possible would be spent on getting his message out.
“This was my fourth campaign and for the (previous) three, I accepted donations as people offered them,” he said. “It didn’t amount to much each time, $2,000 to $3,000, but this time I decided I didn’t want to do that.”
As campaigns heated up and people came forward, offering financial support, Stack stuck to his guns and said ‘thanks, but no thanks.’
On the Elections BC campaign disclosure form that was released yesterday, it says that Stack has a total value of campaign contributions of $500 — all of which came from his own pocket.
It also says he spent $1,865 on signs— amounting to a total spend of $2,214— but Stack pointed out that’s a bit misleading. In his first run for council he bought signs. In the years that followed, he took care of them and used them again for each election. Elections BC, however, requires that he still state the value of the signs each year. Something his fellow councillor Maxine Dehart also laments, having kept her signs for years on end.
“In reality, I only spent $315,” he said.
As for why he chose this approach, Stack said it was it was because there were a number of avenues to get his message out — news outlets and community forums, topping the list.
“I thought the coverage was good and I participated in forums,” he said.
He also took a page from a former longtime councillor Robert Hobson, who was well known for spending and collecting nada during his campaigns.
“He was elected every time for 20 years,” said Stack. “He gave out free apples but he was so well known and had a lot of support, I always thought he was great.”
The no-collect, no-spend approach is something Stack also believes a certain portion of the electorate appreciates.
“It reflects on your term in office,” he said, adding that he’s not of the mind he will never collect another donation going forward.
And, he stressed, he’s not judging those who do.
“I am confident, as a councillor, you can make a good solid decision even if you had received a donation. If people want to donate the maximum of $1,200 that wouldn’t influence a decision.”
Other mayoral and council candidates also financed their own campaigns, though they weren’t among the winners.
While being thrifty worked for Stack others took a different tack, notably Mayor Colin Basran who butted right up against the maximum allowable spending limit in his successful bid for re-election last fall.
His campaign cost $76,585, according to Elections BC, which is just $200 shy of the limit set by the NDP government. This is nearly the same amount he spent in the 2014 election, before the limits were set.
With the limits set, the maximum allowable donation is $1,200 and 41 of Basran’s contributors offered that much up. Among the list of 101 contributors of $100 or more are a hodgepodge of familiar names from the local tech industry, developers and winery folk.
Local philanthropist Thomas Budd was one of the contributors to Basran’s campaign.
He also donated the maximum to Mohini Singh and Brad Sieben, who alongside the rest of council spent far below the allowable $39,000.
Brad Sieben spent $16,583, Mohini Singh spent $11,877, Ryan Don spent $8,884, Loyal Wooldridge spent $6,730, Gail Given spent $6,367, Maxine DeHart spent $6,075 and Charlie Hodge spent $3,451.
The most prominent challenger to Basran, Tom Dyas, spent $38,300.
HOW THEY SPEND ELSEWHERE
Lake Country’s Mayor James Baker got the most bang for his buck in the last election, as he had the cheapest election campaign out of all the mayors in the Central Okanagan.
Baker’s campaign cost $2,100, only 16 per cent of his allocated limit of $13,000. He contributed $2,000 of the campaign donations himself, according to Elections Canada’s summary of election expenses.
By comparison, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom reached nearly 100 per cent of their respective limits. Milsom’s campaign cost $25,100, with a limit of $25,200 while Basran’s cost $76,500, just shy of his limit of $76,700.
Milsom donated twice to his campaign, equalling $1,200. Basran did not donate to his campaign.
Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin’s campaign cost $2,700, 27 per cent out of her $10,000 limit. She received $2,000 in contributions, $600 of which were given from herself.
Fortin tied with contendor Harry Gough for the mayoral seat, which was decided by drawing a name out of a hat. Gough contributed $830 to his campaign.
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