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Big bucks for Coquitlam byelection

The Coquitlam byelection candidates spent more than $120,000 in total to try to win one of two council seats available. - submitted photo
The Coquitlam byelection candidates spent more than $120,000 in total to try to win one of two council seats available.
— image credit: submitted photo

Candidates in last fall’s Coquitlam byelection collectively spent more than $120,000 on their campaigns.

According to the disclosure statements that contenders were required to file by Monday — 120 days after the Oct. 26, 2013, election — Chris Wilson, who topped the polls, spent $22,771 for promotional materials and staff to win his seat on city council.

But the biggest vote getter wasn’t the biggest spender: Bonita Zarrillo, who captured the second spot in the byelection, shelled out $26,875 in advertising and pay for campaign workers.

Wilson and Zarrillo shared an office for the campaign and the two union-endorsed candidates brought in big labour bucks; among their contributors: New Westminster and District Labour Council, CUPE BC, CUPE Local 561 (School District 43 and Coquitlam library support staff), CUPE Local 386 (Coquitlam city workers) and COPE 378 (public and private sectors). As well, they received money from developers such as Polygon Homes, Beedie, Morningstar Homes, Brook Pooni Associates (consultants for Riverview Hospital’s redevelopment) and Wesbild. And the pair also scooped contributions from Coquitlam-Maillardville NDP MLA Selina Robinson and Great Canadian Gaming Corp.

In total, Wilson brought in $34,580 while Zarrillo took $26,876 in donations. By comparison, the top two candidates in the 2010 byelection — winner Neal Nicholson and Terry O’Neill, who eventually won a spot on council in the 2011 general election — raised $34,623 and $18,709 respectively.

Meanwhile, one of the largest discrepancies between funds raised and spent was in Barrie Lynch’s campaign. The former city councillor, who lost his seat after unsuccessfully challenging Mayor Richard Stewart in 2011, placed fourth in last fall's byelection while forking over $21,462 for promotional materials and collected $13,300 from unions, developers and businesses. Among his big donors, according to his documents, were: CUPE Local 873 (BC Ambulance paramedics), CUPE BC, Great Canadian Gaming Corp., Wesbild, RPMG Holdings and Blue Sky Properties (Bosa Properties).

Lynch wasn’t alone. Doug Macdonell, another former city councillor attempting to regain a spot at city hall, also spent more than he raised in the byelection, in which he placed third. Macdonell’s papers show he had $13,075 in bills but garnered less than $9,000 for his campaign. His donors were developers, businesses and the Coquitlam firefighters' union local.

And Port Moody resident Ben B.H. Kim raised $300 but spent 36 times more on advertising, signs and campaign workers, his disclosure reveals.

At a cost of $143,000 for a 9.23% turnout, the Coquitlam byelection was held to replace Robinson and Linda Reimer, who resigned as city councillors after being elected as MLAs last May.

jwarren@tricitynews.com

 

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