By Alison Taylor
More than $20,000 in spending separated the two mayoral frontrunners during November’s election campaign.
Ted Nebbeling spent and raised the most of any candidate in Whistler’s history, at $40,000.
That’s $13,000 higher than the last record holder Dave Davenport who spent $27,000 in the 2002 election. And it’s $20,000 more than Ken Melamed, who spent just over $18,500 last year in a successful bid for the mayor’s seat.
All 24 election candidates were required to file their election expenses and campaign contributions at municipal hall by end of day on Monday, marking 120 days since the municipal election. Four candidates did not make the deadline. They were mayoral candidates Nick Davies and Mike Brew and council candidates Michael d’Artois and McCaul Balmer.
The financial disclosure statements reveal much about the two mayoral frontrunners who were separated by just 350 votes when all the ballots were tallied.
Melamed’s contributors include the biggest Canadian union and a Green Party candidate. Nebbeling’s list, on the other hand, includes the names of big Vancouver developers.
Both Nebbeling’s and Melamed’s election expenses were roughly equal to their campaign contributions. Sixty-seven individuals and corporations donated more than $40,000 to Nebbeling’s campaign. Melamed’s campaign secured donations from 25 contributors totaling $17,031.
Melamed’s biggest support came from the Canadian Union of Public Employees B.C., with a $3,000 contribution. The local CUPE chapter gave $1,500. Whistler-Blackcomb chipped in with $1,000 and Telus gave $500. Several individuals of note gave money in support too, including former federal Conservative cabinet minister Hon. John Fraser, former provincial Green Party candidate Dennis Perry, and several familiar local names, such as Keith Lambert who tried to block the Nita Lake Lodge development in the Supreme Court of B.C. Melamed also opposed that development when he was a councillor.
Some of Nebbeling’s biggest contributors were Vancouver-based development companies with ties to Whistler. Cressey gave $2,000 to his campaign. The company built the Westin Hotel & Spa and is trying to rezone its six-acre Boot Pub site into a townhouse development. Bosa Development, the company responsible for building the Meadow Park Sports Centre while Nebbeling was mayor in the early ’90s and several village projects, also pitched in $1,000. Cardinal Concrete gave $2,500 and, just as they did for Melamed, Whistler-Blackcomb and Telus gave $1,000 and $500 respectively.
Marianne Wade ran the most expensive campaign among council candidates in the 2005 election, just as she did in the previous election. In 2002 when she secured a seat on council she spent $10,000. In 2005 she spent $6,500, but this time around she was unsuccessful in her bid. The numbers are not exactly comparable because there was a runoff election in 2002 after Wade and Dave Kirk tied for sixth place on council. This extended their campaigns by more than two months.
Jamey Kramer, the second highest spender, and one of the youngest candidates in the election, wrote, “I wish” beside campaign contributions in his election expense form. He spent $4,600 on his campaign but was unsuccessful in securing one of the six council seats. The bulk of his money, like the other candidates, was spent on advertising and signage. He also expensed a suit for $525.
Of the six successful candidates for council, Ralph Forsyth spent the most, and raised the most money, collecting $3,005 and spending $3,695. He was followed closely by Tim Wake, who also spent and collected just over the $3,000 mark.
Bob Lorriman raised $1,550 in contributions and spent $1,731.
Gord McKeever spent $1,614, just under the $1,648 he gathered in campaign contributions.
Nancy Wilhelm-Morden who won a seat on council for the third time, returned all her campaign donations to the donors. She spent $1,330 on her campaign.
Eckhard Zeidler ended up with almost $275 in his campaign account after spending $2,310 of the $2,584 he collected. He donated the remaining money to the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE).
Mayoral candidate Kristi Wells received almost $6,000 in campaign contributions but spent more than $14,000.
The four candidates who have not yet filed their financial disclosure statements for the campaign can do so in the next 30 days, but they must pay a $500 penalty. If they do not make the deadline they will not be able to run in the 2009 municipal election.