And the winner is…

Did you ever wonder how much money was donated to candidates during the 2009 St. John’s municipal election? I’d say around… $303,098.

Just a guess.

Let’s say you are like me, and you wondered exactly how much was donated. How do you find something like that out? Let me tell you how easy it is! Piece of cake!

All you have to do is call the city, then you get referred to the city clerk’s office, ask them for the information, wait two weeks, receive the single-sided photocopied original forms, add them up, and there you have it!

Could there be a simpler way for the public to access this information?

Uh, well… Yeah.

But is this important information, really?

Umm, yeah.

Anyway. Lucky for you, like in those cooking shows on TV, The Scope and good old yours truly already did the dirty work and have a candidate donation information casserole in the oven.

Right now I’m staring at a stack of paper with campaign contributions higher than $250 listed.

One thing I’ve learned is elections are expensive. Mayor Dennis O’Keefe won the Who Can Spend the Most Money award, claimed $46,650 in contributions. His former competitor Ron Ellsworth came close with $33,800.

Keith Coombs, who lost the deputy-mayor race to Shannie Duff by less than 3,000 votes (he received 46 per cent of the vote), claimed $36,955 in contributions while Duff gathered $24,411, earning him the Most Money, Least Return prize.

The Tight Ship Award goes to Ward 5 incumbent Wally Collins, who claimed just $4,500—the lowest amount of any elected councillor.

The Most Generous Donor Award goes to Fairview Investments, who contributed $9,700 between nine different candidates (six of whom are currently on council). The website of Fairview Investments says that the “main focus of our family owned business has always been subdivision development, but for the past fifteen years, we have also diversified into waterworks contracting and commercial property leasing.”

The city has taken some steps to include more public opinion in the planning process—such as having pre-budget public consultation for the first time ever—but still has a long way to go.

I’m preparing a special Your City report on campaign funding, with the raw data in Excel, and more in-depth analysis, and it’s available here.