Morinville – As Council continued to wade through the balance sheets and public consultations of the 2014 budget approval process, individual council members have also been busy preparing and filing campaign finance disclosure statements. March 1 was the deadline for all members of Council to file these disclosure statements with the Town of Morinville’s returning officer.
The provincial government made changes to the Local Authorities Elections Act in 2010 which require municipal candidates to disclose what they spent on their campaigns and how those expenses are funded, provided the total is more than $10,000 or they receive monetary or in-kind donations. Candidates who self-fund their campaigns and don’t spend more than $10,000 on their campaign don’t have to file a disclosure statement with the municipal returning officer.
According to Returning Officer Jennifer Maskoske, Councillors Barry Turner, Gordon Putnam and Stephen Dafoe were not required to file paperwork as they self-funded their campaigns and spent less than the $10,000 threshold. Mayor Lisa Holmes and Councillors Nicole Boutestein, Brennan Fitzgerald, and Rob Ladouceur filed their campaign disclosures by the March 1 deadline.
Of those that filed disclosures, Mayor Holmes had the most expensive campaign, topping $7,914.54 for signs, sidewalk chalk, flyers, newspaper and internet ads, and other campaign accoutrements. Holmes self-funded just over $300 in campaign expenses, with the remaining 96 per cent coming from donors, including a $5,000 contribution from Champion Petfoods and $2,000 from Landrex Developments. “Business contributions to political candidates is something that happens in communities across Alberta and Morinville is no different,” said Holmes in a virtual interview. “All campaign contributions (from individuals or businesses) that I received were collected based on the mutual understanding that the donor’s information would be made public.”
Councillor Rob Ladouceur ran the second most expensive election campaign at a price tag of $4,672, which included two $99 donations from unidentified individuals and a $4,000 contribution from Champion Petfoods. While his financial disclosure statement did not include a voluntary itemization of expenditures, Ladouceur said in an interview that he “understood that it was going to cost a lot to have the appropriate number of signs, advertising and marketing to ensure (his) name was out there which is why (he) decided to seek campaign donations.”
The third most expensive municipal election campaign was mounted by Councillor Nicole Boutestein, who spent $4,598 for ads, flyers, office space, and signs. Boutestein received $3,600 in both in-kind and monetary donations from a wide selection of individuals and businesses, including local realtors Glen and Ralayne Good, JDR North Enterprises and The Morinville News. “All the sponsorship I received was offered to me. To be honest I was surprised and humbled by the support,” said Boutestein in an interview.
Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald fielded the least expensive election campaign with a $590 price tag which paid for billboard signs placed around town during the 2013 campaign period. Fitzgerald relied solely on donations from businesses owned his mother and stepfather to financially support his efforts. “My mother and stepfather, out of support and encouragement, gave me a hand which I appreciated but did not need. I wanted to own my campaign,” said Fitzgerald.
Morinville residents can request to see the campaign financial disclosure statements that were filed by contacting the Town Office.