Council Watch: who’s paying election bills?

Maple Ridge Council Watch is challenging candidates to announce their campaign contributors a week before the Nov. 15 municipal election...

Maple Ridge Council Watch is challenging candidates to announce their campaign contributors a week before the Nov. 15 municipal election – so voters know before they head to the ballot box.

The Facebook group run by former school trustee Katherine Wagner issued the challenge this week.

Elections B.C. only requires candidates to file their campaign disclosure forms after the election, within three months.

Voters learning who’s donating how much to each candidate won’t make or break a candidate’s campaign, said Wagner.

“It’s another piece of information for them to consider.”

But if candidates are saying they’re for accountability and transparency in government, she added, they should be willing to say who supports them.

“We have a right to know. We just don’t have a right to know in time for it to influence our vote.

Candidates who received donations in previous elections say the contributions they receive don’t influence how they vote at the council table.

“I think candidates have to think long and hard about who they take donations from, because it’s hard to separate it, especially if it’s from developers,” she added.

“When they come to council asking for permission for rezoning or whatever, you may consciously feel you’re not allowing it to affect your decision. But subconsciously, I don’t know.

“And I think the optics are terrible.”

Wagner assumes candidates will post their donations on their websites, including “in-kind” contributions, by Nov. 8, a week before the municipal election.

Mayoralty candidate Ernie Daykin said he’ll do so.

“I don’t have any problem sharing it ahead of time.”

Donations could come in after the Nov. 8 date, however, he added.

“I’ve got nothing to hide. I don’t think it will be a big deal.”

Daykin took donations from a variety of sources in the 2011 election, spending just more than $11,000 in the campaign.

His largest contributor was Narland Properties, owners of Haney Place Mall, which gave $3,000.

“It’s never influenced how I voted,” he said. “I’ve declined money because you wonder if there’s an expectation from something down in the future.”

He said he’ll likely spend more this time around than in 2011.

“You can spend $10,000 in advertising without even blinking an eye.”

One of Daykin’s rivals in the race for the mayor’s chair isn’t as definite about whether he’ll post his donors online.

“I didn’t even give it a thought,” Morden said.

Nicole Read, who’s also running for mayor’s chair, said she’ll be funding her entire campaign herself.

Graham Mowatt, also running for mayor, will do the same. He may get some small contributions and if he does, they’ll be posted on his website soon. His election budget is about $3,000.

Gary Cleave, running for mayor, as well, won’t accept any contributions and will spend minimal dollars on his campaign.

“It’s a very simple answer for me,” adding he supports the idea.

Council incumbent Corisa Bell has said she’ll post her contributions over $50 as they come into the campaign.

Candidate Todd Oliver says he’s also paying for his entire campaign, adding all candidates’ contributions should be public a week before election day.

“This will allow the citizens to view and make the right choice based on the integrity of the candidates judgement as to who they allow to endorse them,” he said on Facebook.

Alex Pope, Grant Sanderson, Sara Dawn Beckett, Kristina Brown and Morgan Jensen, say the same thing, with Jensen adding he’s set a maximum contribution of $100.

Kiersten Duncan said she posted her contributions during the 2011 election. She favours posting contributions one central site.

Dean Barbour said he’s uncomfortable taking large donations, but if he does, he’ll post them on his website.

James Buddy Rogers is getting contributions from “grass roots” support and says he’ll be posting contributions “as time permits.”

Coun. Bob Masse, seeking a second term, pledged to do the same.

“I don’t have any problem with that at all. I actually think it’s important that everybody say who’s supporting them.”

He’ll post those contributions on his website that will be online soon.

Masse though said he hasn’t heard the request directly from Council Watch and hopes they’ll reach out so everyone knows.

Coun. Al Hogarth says he’ll do the same. “I don’t mind saying what I get from folks.”