Changes needed to election rules
Saturday, Jun 07, 2014 06:00 am
One has to admire Ted Durham for taking on Mayor Crouse over the mayor’s petulant and inaccurate accusation that Durham used his company position to advance his campaign. I also thought that Durham’s company president was very astute in not rising to the mayor’s bait and not only discounted the mayor’s unfounded claim but also stated that his company encouraged their employees to become involved in civic duty including running for office. And it is indeed unfortunate that the majority of council did not support a motion put forward that would prohibit the mayor from writing such letters in future on city letterhead. We need to encourage citizens to run for office, not discourage them.
Mr. Durham was in council last week asking that the city disclose the names of the two complainants who claimed that Durham had not completely disclosed the support he received from two local organizations: the “St. Albert Think Tank” and the “Election Action Committee”. I also received support from these organizations though I have only met one member of the former group and don’t know anyone on the “Election Action Committee”. I also received support from a sign company for two signs that rendered a very modest invoice for the signs. However, I did enquire as to the actual commercial standard cost of the signs and filed that cost in my report.
Third party groups have always been involved in St. Albert civic politics and in the last election, I was aware that some citizens in the Erin Ridge area were supporting me for my stand regarding the school site selection debacle. But how do you quantify that support and in the case of the aforementioned organizations one would have to pose the question as to whether I should report this because I had not appealed for their support and had no input into the material they produced and received no actual financial support. Seems to me we ought to encourage civic participation while at the same time, keep tight control and reporting of actual financial support.
In my view, there are some serious issues surrounding the matter of reporting and third party financing and support and our council could take steps to try and correct some of the these issues through their annual meeting with provincial government MLAs. For example, it is quite possible for candidates to make minor errors in their report to the city election officials but if one decides that they feel obligated to make a correction, it will cost the candidate $500 for the late report and this is clearly punitive. I would think that a fee of perhaps $10 would be adequate provided you reported the error or correction within 30 days of the election.
As to third party activities and reporting may I suggest that council ask our Chamber of Commerce to strike a committee and ask for volunteers to make some recommendations to council. They’ve got three years to get it right.
Bob Russell, St. Albert