Sphere of Influence: Ballot Business
In the last Calgary municipal election, 53 per cent of registered voters turned out to cast a ballot. That might sound low, but it actually represented a three-decade high and was nearly triple the paltry 18 per cent that bothered to vote in 2004.
The New Rules
The Local Authorities Election Act was amended in late 2012. Some new rules in force in the 2013 municipal elections include:
- Maximum amount for individual contributions that are not required to be publicly disclosed: $100 (previous maximum was $300)
- Maximum campaign surplus from previous campaigns not required to be donated to charity (if a former candidate is not running in the 2013 election): $0 The previous maximum was $500
- There are also changes to the act that will come into force after this year’s election, in 2014. The biggest is that each candidate in elections will be required to register with the municipality before accepting campaign contributions
Yes or No
Aside from mayors and councillors, voters in Red Deer will this year cast votes on a plebiscite to change their electoral boundaries. But the plebiscite question has been sent back to council after the first draft was deemed too wordy and too confusing to answer clearly with either a “yes” or a “no.” Yet either way, the plebiscite isn’t binding on the boundaries question. It’s just an opinion-gathering tool.
Edmonton’s Slippery Mayor
William Hawrelak was first elected to Edmonton city council in 1949 and became mayor two years later. In 1959, a judicial inquiry found him guilty of gross misconduct for attempting to influence the rezoning of land that he owned. He ultimately paid $100,000 to settle the case.
Hawrelak was nonetheless re-elected in 1963, only to be turfed for violating the City Act through his 40 per cent ownership of a company that bought land from the city while he was in office. Regardless, Hawrelak returned for one more stint as mayor, from 1974-1975.
Calgary’s Cost Per Vote
In Calgary’s 2010 election, nine of 14 wards went to the candidate who spent the most. But in the mayoral race, the opposite was true.
John Mar (ran for council, successful)
Campaign total $252,505
Per vote $21.71
Shane Keating (ran for council, successful)
Campaign total $30,703
Per vote $3.31
Average campaign spending by candidates
in Calgary’s 14 wards: $92,073
Average per vote: $8.74
Naheed Nenshi (ran for mayor, successful)
Campaign total $403,829
Per vote $2.88
Ric McIver (ran for mayor, lost)
Campaign total $1.08 million
Per vote $9.65
Barb Higgins (ran for mayor, lost)
Campaign total $666,617
Per vote $7.30
Source: Metro News