Editorial — Two classes of candidates

Some pay their own way. Others depend on wealthy individuals, developers, business people or unions to pay for their campaigns.

In sifting through the masses of pages making up the campaign disclosure statements of the 58 candidates for local office in Langley, one thing becomes blindingly clear.

There are two classes of candidates. There are those who run for office, and pay all or almost all of their own expenses. There are more of these than one might expect, and some of them were surprisingly successful.

Then there are those who tap others, usually wealthy individuals, developers, business people or unions, to pay for all or most of their campaigns.

In Langley City, only one candidate for council, Mayor Peter Fassbender, received donations from developers and wealthy individuals. One other candidate for council, Paul Albrecht, received almost all his funds from public sector unions, including $500 from the union local he heads.

In the Township, by contrast, many candidates received heavy funding from developers and businesses. Six were re-elected.

Two of the candidates for mayor, Jack Froese and Mel Kositsky,  between them spent almost $150,000, while incumbent Rick Green spent far less — just $8,800 on his own campaign. His slate, Vote Langley Now, spent a total of $87,569 on campaigns for eight candidates.

Meanwhile, the two new faces elected to Township council financed their campaigns almost entirely from their own or family members’ pockets. David Davis took no outside donations, and Michelle Sparrow raised just $585 outside her family. She was also endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters and her name was prominently displayed on their signs and in their ads.

The six members of Langley City council took virtually no outside donations as well, with one of them, Rosemary Wallace, spending just $290.

In the case for the Board of Education, five of the seven winning candidates got significant amounts of money from labour— notably the Langley Teachers Association and Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The public must judge whether all these donations from outsiders influences the behaviour of elected officials. At the very least, it buys these donors a level of access not available to everyone.

It is well worth taking a close look at just who donated to the campaigns of those elected. It can be done easily on the City and Township websites.