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The $ of Running in the recent Municipal Election

This Article is By: Nancy Foster    On  Feb. - 26, 2006

Many cynics think that local politicians are ‘on the take’ – that they are funded by either

    • Nasty corporations/developers
    • Nasty unions
    • Nasty people

If any of the above is so then we have politicians who can be bought very cheaply.

Here are the unofficial figures for contributions during the last municipal campaign:

Harvey Rosen $51,903

George Sutherland $ 750

Kevin George $1998

Bittu George $7332

George Beavis $6125

Beth Pater $3363

George Stoparczyk $3633

Sara Meers $1359

Steve Garrison $3785

Ed Smith $7949

Floyd Patterson $6875

Rick Downes $2923

Leonore Foster $2597

Most of Rosen’s contributions did come from businesses and business owners indicating a concerted effort on the part of the business community for change – and the presence of a formal fundraising chair.

Individuals and Corporations may give up to $750. There are no tax receipts given for municipal contributions and this might be the reason why corporate donations dominate. Corporations could deduct the contribution, as a business expense while individuals cannot. Amounts over $100 must be publicly disclosed, but amounts under $100 must be receipted and counted. Only contributions up to $25 can be received in cash. Unpaid volunteer labour and amounts of $10 or less that is donated at a fund-raising function are not considered contributions and I assume not counted.

Only Bittu George seems to have run a grass roots campaign with small contributions outnumbering those over $100.

Conspicuous contributors: Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association (almost everyone) Kincore; (4) Kingston & District Labour Council (3). Largest personal contribution: Floyd Patterson

Complaints of overwhelming corporate donations are interesting but probably irrelevant as corporate donations are dominant in almost every campaign.

Most newcomers raised more money than incumbents. I think this is a case of necessity causing them to reach out to those interested in change. However, the amounts raised and spent are so low that there is little spending that went on anything but literature and signs. There is little to be gained by advertising at the ward level, as most live in their wards there is no need for a headquarters. Staff are universally unpaid.

In the interests of transparency it is important that contributions to campaigns be published - not just available (with difficuty) for researchers. In addition we would welcome a requirement that candidates publish a list of assets prior to the campaign.These two changes are important in the local context where groups and associations are often directly involved and interested in the results of planning and land use decisions. Perhaps a candidate in the upcoming election will make these disclosures voluntarily. If one will - others might.

Is there any good reason why contributions to political campaigns at the provincial and federal level receive fairly generous tax reductions while those to municipal candidates do not?

And finally - Kingston Electors does not guarantee the accuracy of the figures above. Interested parties should contact the City Clerk for access to records. The records of the last municipal election will be available until after the upcoming municipal election.