All of the Campaign finance disclosures from the New West Municipal election have been released by the City. There is lots of interesting information there, most of it completely supporting every complaint and conspiracy theory about how municipal politics is financed: those who spent more got more votes; Labour money makes a big difference; Developers are as heavily invested in politicians as they are in land, etc. etc. It is worth taking a closer look at these numbers though, to find the stories behind the stories.
Since this is all about disclosure, I should go first. I gave three candidates money this election. Two of them I voted for, one I didn’t. One of them I just headed a cheque to, two others I contributed through attendance at fundraisers. I also spent a few hours volunteering with one candidate, just accompanying him during some door-knocking. I had two lawn signs in my front yard. For the most part, though, I wore the Referee shirt, literally and figuratively, during the election.
The Mayors race was a run-away for incumbent Wayne Wright, in votes, and in spending. Not only did he garner 61% of the vote, more than twice second-place finisher James Crosty, but he outspent the rest of the field by a wide margin. That Wright’s $61,000 campaign budget was more than three times Crosty’s should be a surprise, considering how Crosty’s campaign was ubiquitous during the election; and Wright’s was rather, um, understated in comparison.
Another way to look at those numbers is that Wayne Wright spent $9.24 for every single vote he received. Crosty’s 3000-odd votes cost him about $6 each, which was even less than distant-third Vance McFadyen paid per vote.
(“private” means declared donations over $100 from private citizens. “Personal” is the Candidate’s own money)
The other side of the coin (pun?) is where the money came from. McFadyen and back-marker Francois Nantel self-financed their campaigns, where neither the Wright nor Crosty spent any of their own money in the race (with the exception of the $10,000 war chest the Mayor had accumulated from last campaign leftovers, but that’s not really his money).
Wright was the only candidate to receive any money from organized labour: $1000 from the Engineers Union. We can save the discussions of Labour Money for the other races.
Both candidates did a good job fundraising from the citizenry: Wright raising more than $9,000 from individuals, and Crosty almost $13,000 between private donations and anonymous fundraising. The sometimes-mocked “Friends of Crosty” definitely put some money where their mouth was. This also puts some truth to Crosty’s “man of the people” campaign rhetoric. It is an impressive fundraising achievement in a City where only 11,000 people voted.
The big difference, of course, was the business donations. Wayne Wright received $40,000 in dontations from the business community (compared to the $6,000 Crosty was able to raise). About 75% of that money came from developers. The biggest single donation was $10,000 from Aragon, developers of Port Royal, but all the big players were there: Westgroup, Balenas, etc. A smattering of local bars, restaurants, and law firms also contributed to one or both candidates, but it is the Developer cash that really stands out.
Which makes you wonder what they are buying.