Thursday, March 11, 2010

How To Be A Candidate 101

Want To Run For Councillor, Mayor, School Trustee?

On Monday, March 8, I attended the first of three sessions run by the city's neutral Toronto Elections group ( ) that tells prospective political candidates or their workers what is allowed or not allowed when you run for political office in Toronto. There will be another session mid summer and one at the end of the election. I saw about 50 people there and it seems this election the city expects a lot more candidates for all the various races.

Since this is the first time I've run for political office (at least since my university days), I am suprised at how easy they make it and all the supports provided.

For instance, if you want to run for Mayor (27 people do so far; Adam Giambrone officially withdrew just yesterday), all you have to do is pay $200. For any one of the 44 city councillor wards, you pay $100 (there are currently 5 people running in our ward; So far, Adam Giambrone is not one of us). For any one of the school trustee wards, the fee is $100.

No matter what campaign you run, you are on the hook to maintain accurate records such as receipts for fundraising, etc. It is serious business with lots of penalties for not complying.

There is even an 'Electronic Financial Filing System (EFFS)' that the city provides for candidates to use! Candidates must provide recipts for all donations to their campaigns and this makes it so easy.

Something many Torontonians probably do not know is that there is a CONTRIBUTION REBATE PROGRAM (for council candidates only) whereby about 75% of the money you donate to a candidate's campaign would be refunded by the city in September, 2011. Surprisingly to me, it's not something that comes back from doing your federal income tax, but rather out of a little known city budget (estimated to be about $3.2 million right now).

So the city seems to be doing everything they can to encourage political participation. Great!

One change this year from previous elections is that donations from unions are not permitted. * Last year public filings show that Adam Giambrone got significant contributions from several unions, (eg Transit union, CUPE, etc). Now financial support will have to come from 'ordinary people'. The maximum donation per individual is $750.

* Note: One loophole is that people who work for political parties or unions can still be paid by their respective groups and then work as free labour on political campaigns. This is how parties like the Liberals or NDP make themselves such a big factor in municipal politics, even though we are not supposed to be seeing party politics at city hall.

People can also donate goods or services to campaigns, but even this has to be tracked and valued too. It is all very transparent and accountable.

So how much will it cost top run a significant campaign? About $30,000 ! Yikes!

The elections people have a formula that is based on 85 cents per eligible elector in any ward. Most wards have about 50,000 people (not all are eligible voters). In Ward 18 last election, sadly only 9,006 people actually voted = a 35% turnout, even though there were a LOT more eligible voters.

The actual LIMIT that any councillor candidate can run in our ward 18 is dependent on updated voters lists that will be issued September 1, 2010. Candidates are not allowed to put up lawn signs until September 30th. The election (voting day) is October 25, 2010 and signs need to be down October 28th.

As of today, the candidates for City Councillor in ward 18 Davenport are:
  1. KEN WOOD (me)
  2. Ana Bailao
  3. Nha Le
  4. Jack Triolo
  5. Hema Vyas

So, please participate in the political process at the level of government that will be the one that affects your quality of life most directly: municipal city government. Informed candidates and involved voters will ensure we get the government we deserve. Donate, help out the campaign, get to know your candidates.

I am asking for YOUR VOTE and YOUR HELP because...