Politics
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Most of the top spending candidates elected in last Victoria election, except in the race for mayor

Total election spending dropped from 2018 election

By Nina Grossman
February 10, 2023
Politics
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Most of the top spending candidates elected in last Victoria election, except in the race for mayor

Total election spending dropped from 2018 election

By Nina Grossman
Feb 10, 2023
Campaign signs from the 2022 municipal election. Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily
Campaign signs from the 2022 municipal election. Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily
Politics
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Most of the top spending candidates elected in last Victoria election, except in the race for mayor

Total election spending dropped from 2018 election

By Nina Grossman
February 10, 2023
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Most of the top spending candidates elected in last Victoria election, except in the race for mayor
Campaign signs from the 2022 municipal election. Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily

*This story has been updated to include election spending documents released after publication.

It was a tight race, but 2022 municipal campaign spending in Victoria was down nearly $40,000 compared to the 2018 campaign period.

That puts the municipality in contrast to a provincial trend of increased spending to the tune of $16.2 million in the October election, compared to 2018.

Elections BC released financial reports for the October race this month, revealing candidates’ total campaign income (monetary and in-kind contributions, including campaign contributions from the candidate themselves) and expenses (the value of goods and services used during the campaign and election periods).

In Victoria, expenses varied greatly across candidates. Marianne Alto, the winner of Victoria’s mayoral race, spent more than $68,000, most of which came from individual campaign contributions.

The financial reports of Alto’s competitor, Stephen Andrew, were submitted late, but show that the runner-up spent more than the double that of Victoria's new mayor.

Andrew spent $148,539 in a bid for the role of mayor, while Alto’s spent $68,382. Both candidates received the majority of their funding through individual campaign contributions, which in 2023, were capped at $1,324 per individual.  

Andrew netted $133,650 in individual contributions, many of which were at the higher end of the contribution limit, while Alto received $67,290 in campaign contributions.

Andrew spent nearly $27,000 on promotional materials like newsletters, brochures and buttons. He also dished out for signs, dropping $24,000 on signage during the course of his campaign.

Alto, meanwhile, put more than $5,400 towards newspapers and periodicals, to which Andrew devoted $0. Alto also spent just over $5,000 on signs and $30,284 on promotional materials.

“In general, local government campaign financing in the last decade has seen additional regulations put into place that [are] comparable to what is in place for provincial elections,” Kim Speers, chair of the Victoria chapter of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, said in an email to Capital Daily.

“The goal, she said, is to improve accountability, ethical and lawful behaviour, and transparency.”

Speers, an assistant UVic professor in the public administration department, said the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act has become increasingly granular in relation to emerging topics like technology, transparency, expense and contribution limits, and third party advertising (advertising sponsored by a candidate or their slate).

In 2022, individuals (including candidates themselves) couldn’t donate more than $1,250 to endorsed candidates but could double that for unendorsed candidates.

And candidates have expense limits based on the population of their electoral area. For Victoria’s council candidates, that limit was $32,067, and for mayoral candidates, $63,335. But that limit applies only to expenses incurred during the campaign period, which in 2022, was from Sept. 17 to Oct. 15.

But the cap doesn’t apply to expenses incurred during the election period (a separate time frame from the campaign period)—which is why some candidates may appear to have surpassed their limit, but haven’t actually violated the rule. For example, Alto’s statement says she spent $18,631.55 outside the campaign period.

“It would be difficult for someone with a very low campaign budget who is relying on individual donors to fund the campaign to compete with another candidate who is wealthy and is supported by donors with large pockets and no restrictions on the amounts that can be donated,” Speers wrote. “Research has shown though that it is not always the person who has a healthy campaign budget who will achieve electoral success.”

In Victoria, most of the biggest spenders were rewarded with seats at the council table. Among candidates, Dave Thompson spent the most, tallying just over $36,000 in expenditures, followed by fellow elected councillors Susan Kim ($32,105), Matt Dell ($30, 287), and Krista Loughton ($29,889).

Of the seven candidates on the VIVA Victoria slate, none reported any election spending and only one, Jeremy Maddock, reported any election income. None of the candidates on the VIVA Victoria slate, which Capital Daily found to have extensive ties to the People’s Party of Canada, were elected.

But as Speers suggested, campaign spending isn’t a direct line to more votes, as evidenced by Jeremy Caradonna, who spent less than many of his (now) colleagues ($18,837), but won a spot on council with the most votes—14,238. Chris Coleman, who spent only $8,787, received a seat at the council table with 10,785 votes.

Election spending in the 2022 Langford race underscores the potential disparity between dollars and votes. As reported in The Westshore, Community First Langford spent $143,108 on its campaign last fall, but failed to get a single candidate elected. Meanwhile, the Langford Now slate—full of newcomers—ran a $57,000 campaign and succeeded in getting every one of its candidates elected.

Candidates had a Jan. 13 deadline to submit their disclosure statements. Outstanding documents are due Feb.13, but come with a $500 late filing fee.

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Nina Grossman
Newsletter Editor
contact@capitaldaily.ca

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