Coun. Bell turned down developer donations

She favours limits on campaign spending in election

  • Mar. 10, 2015 5:00 a.m.

An extra $2,300 would have come in handy, but Coun. Corisa Bell decided to say no to donations from developers and builders in last November’s civic election.

Bell returned that amount of money, which represents the total from several donors, with an explanation as to why she wouldn’t accept such contributions.

“Although campaigns are expensive and I certainly appreciate your financial support, I believe right now there’s trust to be rebuilt in the community.

“Currently, accepting building donations sends a message to the public that I do not make decisions independently. For this reason, I will need to politely decline, and your cheque is enclosed.”

Bell, who spent $8,988 in the campaign, about half of that her own funds and the rest from individual donations, said people care about how politicians get their money to run their campaigns.

“It’s definitely something the public wants to know about. I have been asked about it quite a bit.”

Bell said in a release last week that the lack of services and constant tax increases have caused people to lose trust in both council and developers.

She added that she favours limits on campaign spending.

In 2010, a provincial government task force examining municipal elections called for major changes to local campaigns. While the government later implemented four-year terms, there were no limits on campaign contributions.

However, spending limits could be in place by 2018.

Unlike previously, few on council accepted large corporate donations in the November election.

Coun. Bob Masse got a $100 donation from auto business owner Marv Jones, an in-kind donation for creative services of $500 from Ramirez Creative, and $350 from Thredz Uniforms.

Craig Speirs received small contributions from individuals, while chipping in $4,749 himself on his campaign.

Tyler Shymkiw received $300 from Thermacoustic Industries International and the same amount from Debra-Anne and Leonard Walters. Deb Walters is the former Pitt Meadows mayor and Shymkiw ran her previous campaign. He also received another $200 from Meadowbrook Developments.

Shymkiw also drew from his own bank account to pay for his campaign, contributing more than $16,000 of his own money for the cause.

Gordy Robson, a former mayor, spent only $2,000 of his own money for the campaign, while Mayor Nicole Read paid for her entire campaign, the costs of which exceeded $50,000.

Only one councillor relied heavily on union donations for campaign costs.

Kiersten Duncan received $6,400 from Canadian Union of Public Employee contributions and the Hospital Employees Union. That’s just below the $7,720 she received from individuals.

In total, she received $14,353 in contributions, with 23 of those for amounts less than $100.

Duncan said she’s not influenced into voting in favour of her contributors.

“I make no guarantee that I will vote in any particular direction on any issue.”

Duncan spent $15,753 in the 2014 election, about 10 times more than in the 2011 election. After losing a bid for a council seat in that election, she focused in the intervening three years on raising support for the 2014 election.

She added that there’s a huge financial barrier to people entering politics because of the costs of campaigning.

“The cost of campaigning is ridiculous.”

Maple Ridge News