‘Candidates should declare donations’

Several candidates for Pitt Meadows council have promised to reveal their campaign donations ahead of voting day...

Candidates don’t officially have to declare campaign donations until 90 days after the Nov. 15 election.

Candidates don’t officially have to declare campaign donations until 90 days after the Nov. 15 election.

Several candidates for Pitt Meadows council have promised to reveal their campaign donations ahead of voting day, even though they are not legally obligated to do so.

Couns. Janis Elkerton and David Murray made the same commitment in 2011, disclosing who funded their signs, brochures and posters before voters went to the polls.

Elkerton stressed she is not taking any donations from developers or unions because she is funding the campaign herself.

Murray was a CUPE-backed candidate in the 2011 and said he will be supported by several unions this year, as well. He too will make those donations public before Nov. 15.

“I think transparency is really important,” he added. “It’s not a big secret.”

Coun. Bruce Bell has set a budget of $3,500, which he will finance himself.

Mayoral candidate John Becker, meanwhile, has a section on his website titled ‘donation disclosure’ and has made it clear to anyone who donates to his campaign that their names and address will be published online. The former city councillor revealed his backers when he ran for mayor in 2011. He spent close to $30,000 on that campaign, which was largely self-financed, but included a $250 donations from CUPE’s Fraser Valley District Council, $1,000 from Ecowest Renovations and smaller sums from individuals.

“I will be making every effort to have the public demand that candidates disclose their donations before the election so voters will know,” said Becker.

He pointed out that one of his opponents, Michael Hayes, financed his entire campaign with donations from two developers in 2011. Hayes ran for a council seat in 2011, but is challenging Becker for the mayor’s position this time.

In 2011, Hayes received donations from three individuals and one company connected to Mosaic Homes and Alouette Estates.

Candidates are not required to reveal their donors before voters head to the polls. In B.C., campaign financing disclosure statements must be filed within 90 days of an election, or by February 13, 2015.

Hayes is funding his own mayoral campaign, “at this point.”

“Elections B.C. has specific rules with regards to financial disclosures and I intend to adhere to the rules set out by B.C. Elections,” said Hayes, who is acting as his own financial agent.

“I will remain open and honest with my constituents at all times.”

Gary Paller is also seeking the mayor’s seat – for the second time – but did not return a call for comment. Neither did council incumbent Gwen O’Connell or Andrena Raymond, a new candidate who filed her nomination papers this week.

Mike Stark, who ran unsuccessfully in 2011, won’t be taking money from unions or developers either and intends to spend around $4,000 of his own money on his campaign.

Andrew Thompson, who will be seeking a seat for the first time, said his campaign is currently being funded by himself, with some limited donations from friends and family.

“For a full disclosure of all my financial contributions, please read my financial disclosure statement available after Feb. 13, 2015,” he added.

Tracy Miyashita, who is seeking her third term on council, does not have a problem with revealing her donations before Nov. 15, but noted candidates sometimes get donations right up to the day of the election and even weeks after.

“Due to this fact, Elections B.C. requests we submit 90 days after,” said Miyashita.

“I worry that some candidates may hold off on cashing these donations until after the story so it doesn’t appear that they have received a donation. I am following the rules set out by Elections B.C. as it is transparent and we have a legal obligation to do so. At this point, I have not received any donations nor have any in the works so to speak.”