Local election disclosure statements are now available from the 2014 election. They are hosted on the Elections BC website.
This is my review of costs disclosed by Mayoral Candidates for the City of Victoria 2014 municipal election. There were eight candidates throughout the campaign and four of these candidates (the main four) spent a significant amount of money.
Mayoral Candidates Cost Per Vote
So what does this mean? It is an interesting graph for me because I recognize that “cost per vote” as a interpretative measure of election success is rather arbitrary, especially when devoid of context – which is why it is my first graph in a series.
Who got how many votes?
- Stephen Andrew = 2,380 ($31.41 per vote)
- Ida Chong = 3,275 ($33.01 per vote)
- Dean Fortin = 9,111 ($14.12 per vote)
- Lisa Helps = 9,200 ($9.63 per vote)
- Riga Godron = 33 ($0 spent on campaign)*
- Jason Ross = 132 ($0 spent on campaign)*
- David Shebib = 62 ($0 spent on campaign)*
- Changes the Clown = 253 ($.75 per vote)*
For context, it should be noted that two term City of Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin spent $76,722 on his 2011 re-election campaign and that that amount garnered him 10,080 votes – for a tidy cost per vote of $7.61.
* these four individuals were removed from further analysis because of their negligible/non-existant campaign costs.
Contribution Source for Mayoral Candidates
Things then got more interesting as we looked into the identified contribution sources for candidates. It is easy to see from looking at the graph that late to the game candidate Stephen Andrew raised only a fraction of the campaign contributions received by other candidates. And as a result, Mr. Andrews actually took out nearly $56 thousand in loans to finance his campaign (see form 4227).
- Big business Ida got the most $ from big business.
- NDP favourite Dean got a lot of union money.
- Fan favourite Lisa got the most money from individuals and small businesses.
Contribution Type for Mayoral Candidates
This graph really highlighted for me why politics isn’t a game for everyone in how it shows that a serious majority of campaign contributions are “significant” contributions meaning that if you want to support a candidate, you’re likely expected to ante up at least $100 to get into the game to play.
Advertising Spending by Advertising Type
I had two main takeaways from this graph.
1) The financial disclosure form is actually set up so that Courier/Postage falls within the “campaign administration” and not the “campaign advertising” category. I changed this for my analysis because both Stephen Andrew and Dean Fortin disclosed significant costs (presumably for “mail outs”) in this section. Mail outs are a common advertising scheme for political candidates.
2) Ida Chong far outspent the other mayoral candidates in advertising as shown in the total advertising costs for Mayoral Candidates:
- Stephen Andrew = $22,620
- Ida Chong = $82,637.04
- Dean Fortin = $29,180.89
- Lisa Helps = $19,388.06
Campaign Administration by Cost Type
I had three major takeaway observations from this graph.
1) Lisa Helps was the only candidate to disclose costs for “conventions and meetings” which is consistent with her narrative for how she won the election – she did not play the traditional heavy advertising game (see above) and relied instead of personal connections with those who were displeased by traditional politics as well as those who had never previously engaged in municipal elections.
2) A fair bit of money was spent on research and polling.
3)There was great variety in how candidates candidates disclosed and identified the costs for their campaign staff. Whereas Dean Fortin disclosed that Salaries and Wages were the major cost of his campaign, both Stephen Andrew and Lisa Helps filed their staff costs as Professional Services.
Ida Chong on the other hand does not seem to have disclosed any costs for campaign staff. We should be concerned about this because I am sure that her highly polished and very traditional campaign team (e.g., see above for high advertising costs) were an expensive resource. But who paid for them?
My first thought was that maybe the Liberal party did so I checked back on the Elections BC website to see if there were any electoral organization contributions for the Victoria area:
Nothing – nor was any info available for Third Party Sponsors:
So who paid for her staff? According to the Disclosure Statement Completion Guide for Local Election Candidates Form 4229 – Summary of election expense – is the form is used to disclose all election expenses incurred by the candidate. And as was reported in the Campaign Administration graph above, staff costs were the primary cost reported on Form 4229 for every other mayoral candidate but not on Ida’s disclosure form.
One other interesting thing reported in another section of Ida’s disclosure is identified below. We assume she meant $26,834.70.
I have emailed Ida’s Financial Agent Robert Hallsor to see if he can tell me where these costs have been reported.
March 2 Update
I have since been contacted by both R. Bruce Hallsor and Mark Mawhinney. Where Mr. Hallsor replied simply that “Ida had no staff” Ida’s self declared Campaign Chair Mr. Mawhinney tweeted:
If you look at Division 1 General Concepts: Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses of the Local Election Campaign Financing Act (enacted 2014) there seems to be a general expectation that professional services provided (Campaign management for instance) be recognized for their value as campaign contributions. Mayor Helps was very explicit in her disclosure form in her identification of service “donations in kind” in her list of campaign contributions.
But what is the difference between donations in kind, and volunteers? Personally, I know that when I think of a campaign I see the “senior team” and the “daily team” as workers who get paid, and then I would consider spouses and family as well as the occasional contributors and workers as volunteers.
The Guide to Local Elections Campaign Financing in BC describes volunteers thusly (see page 19):
In an effort to further pursue the practicalities of Mawhinney’s assertion that “some campaigns have to pay and some don’t” I attempted to contact Compliance staff with Elections BC but they appear to be out of the office today.
I am looking into this more.
Direct links to individual Mayoral pdf financial disclosure forms:
Official 2014 Election results from City of Victoria