By Collin Gallant on October 12, 2017.
If an initial survey of municipal election candidates holds true, campaign spending as well as fundraising could plummet in Medicine Hat compared to the 2013 election.
All candidates are required to submit campaign expenses as well as list any donation over $100 within 90 days of next Monday’s election.
Before the last election though, most mayoral candidates agreed to proactively release a list of donors before election day.
At that time, three candidates spent about $20,000 each in hopes of becoming mayor, while the top-eight vote getters for council averaged $6,500 on campaigns.
This week, one current mayoral candidate announced his budget was “zero,” while two others say their campaigns are mostly self funded and therefore under a $10,000-limit.
Incumbent mayoral candidate Ted Clugston, who is assumed to be fundraising, told the News he will post his initial donors list prior to election day.
Challenger John Hamill said he decided to run with his own money with a campaign that “shows some restraint.
“I don’t want to buy the position,” he said. “I’ve got one donor and she’s my wife.”
Mayoral hopeful Scott Raible said his campaign is primarily self-financed but he would release donors on his campaign’s social media accounts.
“This information is made available after the election,” he said. “I wouldn’t see why any candidate would not wish to do so prior to election day to ensure transparency.”
Tom Fougere, a local blogger and candidate, said on nomination day that he considered traditional media and signs to be “a waste of money.”
“Zero dollars,” he said this week. “My word. No money involved here.”
The News sought comment from all candidates Thursday about campaign financing.
Most council candidates who responded said they are foregoing any donations to run entirely self-financed campaigns.
Les Pearson, seeking a third term on council, similarly did not seek donations from supporters in 2010 or 2013.
“When you accept donations from some groups you are a little bit in their debt, and I’d rather have a clear conscience,” he said.
In 2013, eight successful councillor candidates spent an average of $6,500 on campaigns, with about two thirds of that amount raised from friends, developers, individuals and several labour groups.
For mayor that year, three of four candidates spent more than $20,000, with donations making up the lion’s share.
Successful candidate Clugston contributed $3,600 to his own campaign budget of $21,670.
Second-place finisher Phil Turnbull raised about $14,000, and Milvia Bauman was the top fundraiser with $20,000 coming in.
Incumbent Norm Boucher, who spent $2,500 in total, mostly of his own money, placed fourth.
Turnbull, seeking a council seat this year, tells the News his budget is $5,600, but only $600 is from outside sources.
Robert Dumanowski spent well below the average in 2013 at about $4,600 in total — including a personal contribution of $1,400 — but earned the highest vote total.
“Typically it’s been family and friends donating,” he said. “I don’t solicit donations, but some are graciously accepted. It does take money to run a campaign.”
Incumbent council candidate Jamie McIntosh raised two thirds of his campaign budget in 2013 but said this year he is self-funded.
First-time candidate Kris Samraj states on his webpage that he has been putting aside money for several years to mount a self-financed campaign. He estimated his budget will wind up at about $4,000.
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