Clark outspent Atchison in big-money mayor race

Campaign cashHere are the details from the campaign contributions and expenses disclosure statements from the 2016 municipal election:

Don Atchison

Contributions: $209,668.77

Expenses: $186,764.59

Largest cash donation: $10,000 (Saskatoon Firefighter Local 80)

Charlie Clark

Contributions: $202,956

Expenses: $198,384

Largest cash donation: $10,000 (author Yann Martel)

Kelley Moore

Contributions: $91,935

Expenses: $91,029.34

Largest cash donation: $18,000 (Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615)

Devon Hein

Contributions: 0

Expenses: 0

The 2016 race for Saskatoon mayor proved to be exciting, and expensive, with nearly $500,000 spent on campaigns.

The $476,177.93 spent in the fall election is nearly double the previous record of $247,500 set in the 2012 campaign.

Mayor Charlie Clark led the way in spending, coming close to the spending limit of about $200,000 with $198,384. Former mayor Don Atchison was close behind, spending $186,76.59 with challenger Kelley Moore spending less than half of what her two opponents spent.

“It’s a challenge,” Clark said in an interview Thursday. “I’m not going to deny it. We had to put everything we could in this campaign.”

Clark said his campaign was “meticulous” in detailing the donated services, known as in-kind contributions, that had a cash value.

Moore led in one category: Her donation of $18,000 from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615 was the largest single donation for any candidate in the last two elections. It could be the largest single donation in a campaign in Saskatoon history since donation details have not always been made public.

ATU 615 also donated $2,000 to the successful campaign of Coun. Bev Dubois.

Moore also pulled in the largest contribution from an individual: $11,000 in total from Barb and Sam Sambasivam. Clark’s largest cash donation of $10,000 came from celebrity author Yann Martel, a vocal Clark backer.

Moore said she hopes future candidates are encouraged by her campaign. Moore got 22 per cent of the vote, compared to 41 per cent for Clark and 37 per cent for Atchison.

“I was very proud of how much money we were able to raise in such a short period of time,” Moore said in an interview Thursday. “I don’t have big pockets. I don’t have political affiliations.”

Moore said she and her wife, two-time mayoral candidate Lenore Swystun, spent about $26,000 of their own money on the campaign.

Clark’s campaign contributions included a combined cash and in-kind donation of $12,800 from Quadrant Newmedia Corp., a Saskatoon-based software company, and an in-kind donation of $11,840 from Danger Dynamite, a Saskatoon web design and marketing company.

Atchison’s largest donation of $10,000 came from the local firefighters union, a perennial supporter of the city’s longest-serving mayor. The firefighters union also invested in the campaigns of several council candidates. A numbered company contributed $7,000 to Atchison’s campaign.

Atchison said he tries to keep fundraising at arm’s length and he did not even know who his largest contributor was.

“I was totally separate and apart,” Atchison said in an interview Thursday. “I was the candidate, OK?”

Atchison added the election is “history” and he’s moved on.

Atchison and Clark both raised more than the spending limit: $209,699.77 and $202,956, respectively. Moore raised $91,935, about $900 more than she spent.

Candidates are allowed to deduct fundraising expenses from their spending, which lowers the total.

Clark’s campaign spent more than any in Saskatoon history. Atchison held the previous record with $161,347 on his successful 2012 re-election campaign. In 2012, Atchison spent about $14,500 more than he raised.

Atchison spent far less on his two previous victorious mayoral campaigns: $34,000 in 2009 and $63,000 in 2006.

Devon Hein, who ran an erratic campaign for mayor, claimed no contributions or expenses.

Atchison’s campaign raised $58,306 at fundraising functions, the most of any campaign. New rules introduced for this election meant money from fundraising events did not require the same disclosure as other donations.

Donors who gave $100 or more had to declare their identity, a threshold that was lowered for this campaign from $250.

Atchison raised $124,434 in cash donations and another $7,540 in donated services.

Clark claimed $14,820 from fundraising functions, $139,702 in cash and $48,434 in donated services.

Moore’s campaign claimed $2,750 from fundraising events, $50,211 in cash and $12,660 in donated services, like the $8,000 for her campaign manager. Clark’s campaign claimed $7,700 in donated services from his campaign manager, Michelle Beveridge, who he then hired as his chief of staff once elected.

ptank@postmedia.com

twitter.com/thinktankSK

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