Municipal election spending ranges widely in St. John's

Vying for a seat on council in Newfoundland and Labrador can be an expensive venture - especially in St. John's.

Former mayor Andy Wells spent $91,300, John Dinn spent $0 in 2001

Several candidates running in the St. John's municipal election on Sept. 24 have posted signs across the city. (CBC)

Vying for a seat on council in Newfoundland and Labrador can be an expensive venture – especially in St. John's.

Ward 3 candidate Walter Harding said he has a campaign budget of $1,000, which he's financing himself. (CBC)

Campaign spending for municipal elections in the city has run the gamut, from former councillor John Dinn in Goulds, who didn't spend a cent in 2001 to win his seat, to former mayor Andy Wells, who spent $91,300 that same year.

Walter Harding started campaigning in his ward for the upcoming Sept. 24 election last year.

He said he's heard of candidates spending a lot of money.

"There's no doubt about it... There's some people I've heard that have raised $70- and $80-thousand," he said.

The Ward 3 candidate has a budget of $1,000, which he's financing himself. Harding is relying on his own hard work.

"Because I know there's only one person in this world that I know inside and out and that's me... and I know what I can do," he said. 

"Money for me has never been an issue. If I can work harder to spend less, that's what I do."

Harding doesn't have a lot of signs, but plans to knock on every door in his ward before election day on Sept. 24.

"They want to talk. They want to see your face. Internet, telephones is one way to talk to somebody, but they want to see your face," he said.

That's not always possible for candidates running for mayor, deputy mayor, or councillors-at-large, who have to mount a city-wide campaign.

Paul Sears, a former councillor who's running for councillor-at-large, plans to spend between $15- to $20-thousand on his campaign, and has signs everywhere.

He said being seen is a big factor.

"The big thing with people is if you don't have signage up... they don't even know you're in the race," Sears said.

"It's an old way of campaigning, but it's still an important way of campaigning for a lot of people."

Sears said you have to be prepared to spend if you want to be taken seriously.

"If they don't spend money, they're not going to be known. And unless they have a network of people who are constantly on the phones, constantly at the doors, that's the only way we can get elected. That goes for all of us."

Here are some of the St. John's election spending numbers:

Andy Wells - mayor  
Gerry Colbert - deputy mayor  
Paul Sears - councillor 
John Dinn - councillor

Andy Wells - mayor
Dennis O'Keefe - deputy mayor
Shannie Duff - councillor 
Tom Hann - councillor

2008 byelection
Dennis O'Keefe - mayor
Ron Ellsworth - deputy mayor 
Debbie Hanlon - councillor 

Dennis O'Keefe - mayor 
Shannie Duff - deputy mayor 
Sheilagh O'Leary - councillor 
Wally Collins - councillor 


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