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Ward 5 by election - who spent what?

As expected the successful candidate in last October's Ward 5 by-election, Bob Kwapis, had the biggest war chest and outspent most of his rivals by far. He was the only candidate required to produce an auditor's report as his total expenses were over $10,000.

Campaign expenses were capped by the Town at $11,636.10 and candidates were required to return their completed campaign financial statements to the Town Hall by 2 pm on January 3, 2017.

The Town's website shows that Tracee Chambers has not filed her statement yet. I am sure there is some innocent explanation that will soon be forthcoming.

The Council by-election in Ward 5 last October was important in many ways.

We had a terrific field of eight candidates. There was someone for everyone. And the campaign itself was spirited with most of the candidates rejecting the proposed Clock Tower development in the heart of the Ward. Only Ian Johnston and Tom Pearson thought there was some merit in Forrest's plans and both got trounced.

That said, we owe all the candidates a big round of applause for taking the trouble to stand for election - often at considerable personal cost. I see Darryl Wolk's campaign was largely funded by the candidate himself who contributed $7,085. Ron Eibel contributed $2,000 to his campaign. Kwapis (shown right) contributed an eye-watering $13,168 to his own campaign although an unspent $6,168 was refunded to him.   

Ian Johnston, eccentrically, spent absolutely nothing on his campaign and clearly did not expect to be elected. His return tells us he

"did not accept any contribution or incur any expenses other than the nomination fee".

But the big story must be Bob Kwapis who carpet-bombed his opponents financially, spending $3,079 on advertising and $2,680 on brochures. He spent $4,429 on his blitzkrieg of election signs which covered the face of the entire Ward. He also spent $10 on an electronic voter list which was probably worth its weight in gold.

The money Kwapis could theoretically draw on, his "total campaign income" at $18,728, dwarfed the runner up, Darryl Wolk, who declared $9,835. (The campaign expenses are, of course, capped at the same level for all candidates. So you can have all the money in the world but it is of no use if you can't spend it.)

So, what do I take from all this?

You can't get elected if you spend nothing or next to nothing.

And if you are serious about getting elected - and spend a small fortune - you still need a story to tell that will resonate with the voters.

Voting systems matter in determining outcomes. (see note below)

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Note: In deciding who wins elections we cannot ignore the impact of the voting system. First-past-the-post may be on its way out in some municipalities.

In Newmarket, a special Committee of the Whole at 9am on 30 January 2017 "will address internet voting and ranked ballots". (See Committee of the Whole agenda for 16 January2016 - Outstanding Matters, item 2.)


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