Three candidates have announced their financial supporters in advance of Saturday’s election, so voters can go to the polls better informed about who’s on the ballot.
Corisa Bell, Claus Andrup, and Craig Speirs have provided their lists.
“People do care, they absolutely do care,” said Bell, in her first civic election.
Public interest in the topic prompted her to research those who contributed to the present councillors three years ago, which she posted on her website.
“It’s about transparency and informing the voter so they can make an informed decision.”
Bell has no problem with candidates taking contributions from companies. But if they do, they should say so.
“If they’re comfortable taking donations, then they should be proud that they’re taking donations. If you’re getting paid $30,000 from multiple companies, you should be proud of that, if that’s your choice.”
Accepting donations could create perceptions of conflicts of interest in council decisions when council is deciding on a proposal from a contributor, said Bell, who has accepted $2,250 in donations from individuals and businesses.
“Even if you say it doesn’t influence you, I can’t believe that to be true.”
Such practices lead to cynicism and apathy from the public, said Speirs.
Many people now think the decisions are made ahead of time, based on contributions, which leads to cynicism and low voter turnout.
“I think it hurts the democratic process. It just feels wrong.
“I get a lot of agreement on that from citizens.”
Claus Andrup has the same perspective. He announced his contributors ($6,810) on his Facebook page and said he’d accept contributions from corporations which he supported, acknowledging it could create a perception of conflict if he voted on a proposal to council from that donor.
Publicizing those donations beforehand though gets it all in the open and allows voters more information on those candidates.
“You get clarity on those person’s views.”
That could also spare disappointment from voters after learning their councillors voted against an issue because of their donors.
“You feel you’ve been duped.”
“Do I think candidates should make known their donations prior to voting day? Yes, I do.”
Speirs released his campaign donors ($350) Monday and will be listing them in advertisement.
During the commission on electoral reform, Speirs put in a submission calling for an end to corporate and union donations, and that realtors or developers not be allowed to vote on land-use decisions.
The B.C. Elections task force recommended to limit spending in municipal elections and extended the term for councils from three to four years.
Since the province isn’t interested in limiting contributions, “I think we have to do it ourselves to try to win back some of the trust of our voters,” Speirs said.
He rejects the argument from his opponents that candidates are also influenced by union contributions because council decisions have less to do with union matters than they do with decisions on development, which comprises most of council’s work.
“It’s a false argument and deflective.”
But to address that, Speirs also has rejected contributions from unions.
Mayoralty candidate Craig Ruthven said he’s only received contributions from individuals and those contributions are all under $50. “I’m keeping the donations small.”
Ernie Daykin doesn’t plan on announcing his contributors. “I guess they think it makes a difference on how people are going to vote.”
Daykin said he’s spending a third of what he did in the 2008 campaign. So far, expenses are ringing in at $8,800. He doesn’t have to buy election signs this time around and he’s cut back advertising.
“There are some things I don’t have to do. It’s a different campaign.”
Calls to incumbent Couns. Al Hogarth, Mike Morden and Judy Dueck weren’t returned.
Dueck, though, said in an earlier e-mail said she’d be providing full disclosure when she files her expenses, after the election, and said candidates should be asked about all donations, not just those from developers.
Financial contributors to Claus Andrup’s campaign, as of Nov. 13:
• Big Valley Heating, $200;
• Meadows Cleaners, $200;
• Claus Andrup, $2,730;
• Jeffrey Ciachurski, $1,500;
• Deborah Andrup, $1,150;
• Brad Nick, $600;
• Ian McLeod, $130;
• Louise Pelton, $100;
• V. John Wardlow, $100;
• Robert Bryce, $100.
Total cash donations, $6,810
• Jon Teo Design, (website) $1,200;
• Waite Bird Photos (photography) $500;
• Iron Horse Media (videography) $225.
Financial contributors to Corisa Bell’s campaign, as of Nov. 15:
• Wilf and Lynn McIntyre, $1,800;
• Andy Cleven, $150;
• Meadows Cleaners, $100;
• Michael Sather, $100;
• Sal Vetro, $100.
The remaining campaign expenditures are funded by Corisa Bell herself with personal funds and money through her company, WebsiteCM Software Inc.
Financial contributors to Craig Speirs’ campaign
• Andy and Karen Cleven, $100;
• Steve and Janet Amsden, $50;
• Kelly Speirs, $200.
The balance of Speirs’s $3,000 campaign is self-funded.