The school trustee byelection may have cost the Chilliwack School District $40,000 last fall, but the 14 candidates running for the seat spent only a fraction of that to promote themselves to voters.
The financials for any election in B.C. are required to be submitted to Elections BC 90 days after general voting day. That day was March 11, and the documents have now been released to the public.
In total, all of the candidates spent a combined $15,667 on various expenses — mostly on billboards.
Angelina Gosselin spent the most of all the candidates, at $5,799.87. Gosselin was also the first to announce she was running in the byelection. She funded most of that cost herself, minus a $500 contribution from the Fraser Valley Labour Council CUPE 774. She spent most of her funds on signs and billboards, at $3,635.83. Other costs went towards printed material ($488.73), internet advertising ($327.89), other advertising ($94.43), furniture and equipment ($151.18), office supplies ($51.57), conventions and meetings ($59.50), and other campaign related functions ($478.72).
The victorious candidate by a long shot, former educator Bob Patterson, spent a considerable amount as well. He fully funded his own campaign, putting $10,000 into an account at the outset. However, he only spent $3,981.62 of that money, on various campaign costs. Like Gosselin, Patterson spent the bulk of his funds on signs and billboards, at $3,197. He then spent $314.14 on newspaper ads, $300 on professional services, $150.89 on conventions and meetings and about $20 on rent, insurance and utilities.
Candidates can receive contributions from supporters, and those gifts are required to be noted. As noted above, Gosselin received support from a labour council. Meanwhile, Paula DeWit received $500 from local businessman Harry Mertin and $100 from Louis De Jaeger, a Liberal candidate in the last federal election and a successful restaurateur. DeWit’s election expenses, including printed materials, internet, newsprint, and signs, totaled $2,134. The remainder came from her personal funds.
Megan Praat, who graduated from high school just months before the election, funded her campaign with $588 of her own money. She spent that on signage.
John Edwards spent $303.58 from his own funds, solely on newspaper advertisements.
Karen Jarvis spent $1,035 on printed materials ($105) and signs and billboards ($930).
Brian Mielke spent $384.43, mostly on signs and billboards.
Perry Sherstobetoff spent $1,030.19 for internet, printed materials and signs and billboards.
Lisa Thebault spent $396.23 on her campaign, with $300 of that going toward signs and billboards.
But it doesn’t need to cost money to put in a run for an elected seat.
Alisha Atkinson, Ray Blanchette and Doug Wiens spent nothing on their campaigns. Marion Mussell spent $10 in gas getting to the two all candidate debates that were held during the campaign, and Rob Stelmaschuk spent $4.
The byelection was held to replace the seat vacated when longtime trustee Martha Wiens passed away.
Patterson won the seat with 833 of the 1905 votes cast on Dec. 13, 2015.
DeWit earned 197 votes, and Praat earned 186.
Mussell and Gosselin earned almost the same number of votes, 155 and 154 respectively, despite spending so differently on their campaigns. Thebault earned 120 votes and Jarvis earned 113. From there the numbers drop off significantly, with Mielke garnering 63 votes; Edwards, 35; Sherstobetoff, 25; Atkinson, 15 and Stemlaschuk, 9.