Frontrunners in mayoral, council races ran most expensive campaigns

You have to spend to win votes — in some cases.

You have to spend to win votes — in some cases.

Red Deer city council heard the 2013 Municipal Election Candidate Disclosure report on Monday.

The two frontrunners in the five-way mayoral race and the top councillor vote-getter ran the most expensive campaigns.

Former councillor Cindy Jefferies was the top spender with $31,610.98 in donations (100 per cent donations/donation in kind) for her mayoral campaign but it did not pay off.

Jefferies finished second with 7,971 ballots cast her way, which equals to $3.96 per vote. Jefferies had a $61.98 campaign surplus.

Mayor Tara Veer spent $21,613.33 on her campaign ($19,225 in donations and $2,388.66 of her own money). She received 9,400 votes for $2.30 per vote.

But it was incumbent Coun. Dianne Wyntjes who was the top vote getter with her $24,318.81 campaign. She received 9,841 votes or $2.47 per vote, besting 29 council hopefuls.

She spent $8,884.81 out of her own pocket and received $15,434 in donations/donations in kind.

Wyntjes said there’s good value in municipal campaigns compared to provincial and federal races. The two-term councillor said she felt there was good value for citizens in her campaign literature.

“I think as long as we have citizens that aren’t following social media, you need to do the printed material and communication with our citizens,” said Wyntjes.

She said in Calgary, for example, council hopefuls spent about $125,000 on their ward election campaigns.

On the flip side, incumbent councillors Buck Buchanan and Frank Wong spent only a fraction of Wyntjes’ budget.

Wyntjes said some people are lucky and they can do it on a smaller budget but she felt there was value in having literature with her vision and platform.

Buchanan funded his entire campaign for $577.34 out of his pocket to take 8,435 votes, the second highest on council.

Buchanan said he reused his old signs and even turned away donations.

“I was fortunate,” said Buchanan. “I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money. I thought what happens, happens.”

Buchanan said spending on an election is really up to the individual. He said the sky is the limit.

Wong spent $685.95 to secure 8,019 votes and a spot on council, good enough for fifth of the eight elected councillors.

Of the other successful candidates, newcomer Lawrence Lee spent $10,943.63 (8,406 votes) on his race. Lee spent his money on signs, web designs, brochures newspaper ads, campaign meetings and other items.

Lee said he was anxious because he had not run a council campaign before and he wanted to cover all his bases.

“I just made sure I could do what I could do,” said Lee.

Lee said he does not anticipate spending that much in four years time. He called Buchanan’s campaign tally commendable and shows that you can be a community leader and be well known in the community without spending a lot of money.

Coun. Ken Johnston spent $8,207.06 (7,134 votes) and Coun. Tanya Handley spent $2,915.17 (6,623 votes) on their campaigns.

Incumbent Paul Harris spent $8,992.84 compared to the $17,725.62 that he racked up on his 2010 run for council.

Coun. Lynne Mulder spent $2,425 on her 2013 campaign compared to her successful $886 campaign in 2010.

On the losing side, Stephen Coop spent $7,342.15 out of his own pocket. Coop came in 28th spot with a mere 1,139 votes. Tim Lasiuta spent just 45 cents for his entire campaign, which earned him 1,974 votes to surpass five candidates. Lasiuta said he estimated the cost of printing 15 pieces of paper at home.

Troy Wavrecan spent a big zero on his campaign, which was good for the bottom of the list with 469 votes.

The 35 council and mayoral candidates were required by law to disclose the contributions and expenses related to their campaigns by March 1.

For a full list go to www.reddeer.ca

Other council news:

lCoun. Paul Harris was endorsed as the city’s choice to stand for election for a spot on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The endorsement also includes assuming all costs related to his election up to $1,000 and another $14,500 for the meetings and travels associated with the appointment. There was some discussion in chambers about reviewing this price tag at an upcoming Governance and Policy committee meeting.

lCouncil gave three upcoming mixed martial arts events the green light. Because Red Deer does not have a commission, any promoters wishing to host an event must ask council. In September 2013, the city entered into negotiations with the Edmonton Sports Commission to oversee Red Deer events. City clerk Frieda McDougall told council that negotiations have been moving along and they expect to have a deal in place by the end of the year.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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