As we watch hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on yet another federal election campaign, the campaign expense reports from October's municipal election have been released allowing us to see how much our municipal candidates spent on their campaigns, what they spent it on, and where the money came from.
So just what does it take to get elected aside from a desire to serve your community, and a lot of hard work to get your platform out to the voters?
Many would assume that money is the key, however as the documents filed by the candidates (available on the municipal website) demonstrate, money is only part of the recipe for a successful campaign.
In the race for the five councillor seats, candidates were permitted to spend as much as $13,827.25 on their campaigns. The top two spenders finished in the top three in the number of votes received.
Councillor James McIntosh spent $3,276.80, and councillor Barb Clumpus spent $3,244.17 while the candidate that received the most votes for councillor, Michael Poetker, spent half of that amount with his total campaign expenses ringing in at $1,581.90.
The top three finishers in the race for councillor also each received funding for their campaigns in very different ways.
Clumpus clearly bested her opponents in the fund-raising department with the entire cost of her campaign covered by contributions.
Poetker and McIntosh also did well in raising funds with each raising in the neighbourhood of $1,200 while funding the remainder of the costs of their campaigns from their own pockets.
Those running for mayor were allowed to spend a little more than candidates for councillor with a spending limit of $16,327.25. While neither candidate came close to spending the maximum allowable, it is interesting to note that the ultimate winner of the mayor's race spent less than half of what the losing candidate spent.
Mayor Francis Richardson spent a total of $3,363.56 on his campaign all of which came out of his own pocket. Richardson like Deputy Mayor candidates Gerald Shortt and Harley Greenfield did not accept any outside contributions to his campaign.
Richardson's opponent - former councillor Jim McPherson - shelled out nearly $8,000 on his campaign of which he funded nearly $5,500 himself receiving the remaining $2,445.82 from contributors.
The mayor's race was decided by less than 300 votes with Richardson collecting 2,583 votes compared to McPherson's 2,292.
It is often noted that especially in municipal politics, it is difficult to campaign against an incumbent, and in this case McPherson spent $3.46 for every vote he received while Richardson's votes cost him just $1.30 apiece.
There were some candidates that didn't spend any money at all.
According to his financial report filed with the municipal clerk, candidate Gerald Shortt didn't spend a penny on his campaign aside from the $100 fee to enter the race yet he finished his bid for the Deputy Mayor's chair with 43 percent of the 4783 votes cast for that position.
Shortt's opponent for Deputy Mayor, Harley Greenfield spent $997.33 on his winning campaign, the bulk of those funds being spent on signs and advertising.
Council candidates Ray McHugh and Peter Vaughan also ran their campaigns without spending any money, while candidate Peter Bantock spent just $82.37 on his unsuccessful bid for a council seat.
Councillor Lynda Stephens ran her campaign for re-election on $1,124.54 with $125 of those funds coming from outside contributors, finishing fourth in votes for that position, while Deborah Young took the final councillor seat after spending slightly less than $1,800 on her campaign with $300 of that raised by contributions.
Four candidates did not file their financial statements with the municipal clerk by the March 25 deadline as required by the Municipal Elections Act. Those not filing their statements were all candidates for council seats- Barbara Arnelien, Wesley Cann, Carol Smith and Jason Whaley.
Clearly money helps in an election campaign, but the financial statements filed by the candidates in our last municipal election would indicate that hard work is also important. And while some might argue that incumbents have an advantage, they too at one time were attempting to get elected for the first time and were successful, and if after serving their community for four years, the voters are comfortable with returning them to the council table, then they earned that advantage.
As you ponder where your vote will go in the May 2nd federal election, don't be swayed by the number of signs plastered everywhere, or the number of ads you see in a newspaper. Ask yourself what issues are important to you, and then research the candidates to find out who speak to those issues in a way that you are comfortable with.
You just might find that those spending the big bucks aren't necessarily the candidates that will best represent you on Parliament Hill.