Carli Berry/Capital News

Lake Country mayor’s election campaign cheapest in Central Okanagan

Mayor James Baker’s campaign cost was $2,100, 16 per cent of his limit

Lake Country’s Mayor James Baker got the most bang for his buck, 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.

Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin’s campaign cost $2,700, 27 per cent out of her $10,000 limit. Vernon’s Mayor Victor Cumming had a campaign cost $9,600, 32 per cent of his limit.

“I don’t like spending a whole lot of money on election campaigns,” Baker said. “I’m trying to go on my record. I decided to self-finance to a couple thousand dollars this year and not ask anybody else to contribute. One guy contributed before I said I wasn’t really campaigning.”

“It was closer than I thought, but I did win,” he chuckled.

READ MORE: Baker remains Lake Country’s mayor, fire hall upgrade approved

Baker came out with 1,479 votes in 2018’s election, with challenger Barry Rhodes trailing with 1,266.

“We’re a small community and people know whose who, and they can make their decision. I think, I suppose, I could do more door-knocking, but I try to attend a whole lot things that we do and our volunteers do,” he said, adding so residents know he’s involved in everything, including sports and recreational activities.

Baker said the most effective use of his money went to the mail-out that was sent to every house in Lake Country.

“I think that was the biggest cost, the rest of it were interviews with (The Calendar) and TV, which were free. I should say newspapers were the most effective,” Baker said.

Baker said it’s a campaign strategy he’s stuck with over the years.

In 2014, his campaign also cost just over $2,000, more than half of which he funded himself.

Coun. Bill Scarrow’s campaign cost $1,200, $1,000 of which was from a donation, Coun. Penny Gambell’s cost $700, which came out of her own pocket, Coun. Todd McKenzie’s cost $490, which he didn’t provide a significant donation to, and Coun. Cara Reed’s cost $1,100, which mostly came from donations.

READ MORE: Lake Country public beach advocate turns sights to district council

Coun. Blair Ireland and Coun. Jerremy Kozub did not campaign. Both did not have any competition for their Okanagan Centre and Winfield seats.

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