OPINION – Running for Princeton council: How will you pay for it?

Lots to consider before stepping forward

It seems like you can’t swing a dead marmot in the Town of Princeton without hitting someone who is either promising or threatening to stand for political office in the 2018 local elections.

It will be interesting, for sure, to see what names appear on the ballot October 20.

(Saying one is going to run for a council seat is a little like saying one is going to run 5 km every day. Lots of people talk about it, but not everyone gets off the couch.)

Those seriously considering putting their names forward should take careful note of the provincial government’s recently proposed election reform legislation.

In short, it puts limits on the amounts candidates can spend in making a bid. For communities with less than 10,000 residents they are $10,000 for the mayor’s seat and $5,000 for all other offices.

Now it’s unlikely that anyone in Princeton BC wants to be mayor so badly they would first solicit and then spend this much money.

(Honestly, for that kind of cash you can get a 2018 Arctic Cat Bearcat 2000 LT and have enough left over for beer.)

It is comforting to know, though, that when it comes to democracy we are headed in the direction of money can’t buy you love.

What will be more relevant for candidates here is the proposed cap on campaign donations – that is no one can give a donation greater than $1,200 and businesses and unions cannot contribute.

The cap also applies to donations from self – so that someone intent on funding his or her own campaign (and that is very typical at the municipal level) will be unable to spend more.

It’s difficult to find a relevant baseline, as Princeton’s mayor and four councillors were all acclaimed in 2014.

However, three years ago it cost Area H regional district director Robert Coyne $792.26 to get elected. His own pocket accounted for $567.26.

He spent $50.40 on brochures, $94.50 on print advertising and $647.36 on signs.

In the same race Charles Weber spent $1150.66 – $497.64 in advertising and $646.81 on signs, plus some nominal bank fees. He donated $1,000 to his own campaign and there was a surplus in his account at the end of the day.

Keremeos enjoyed a mayoral contest, with Manfred Bauer spending $416.38 of his own money to secure the seat. His opponent Martin Menzies wrote himself a cheque for $746.74.

There are all kinds of things a person needs to think through, and execute, when considering dipping a toe into the alligator-infested waters of municipal governance.

An earnest and credible candidate should attend regular council meetings, at least long enough to glean an understanding of the processes and procedural requirements attached to the job.

A newcomer to the arena should pay special attention to the time consuming and voluminous committee work required of mayor and council. This information is normally contained in council members’ verbal reports that could fairly be titled on the agenda: “How I spent the last two weeks.”

That same candidate is going to want to be familiar with community issues, their backgrounds, as well as applicable local law. All bylaws can be found on the Town of Princeton’s website.

There are many resources available online to inform potential candidates and almost all of them are captured under http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/Lgd/gov_structure/elections/index.htm

Each candidate also needs to appreciate there are costs associated with running for office, and consider how those are going to be paid. -AD

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