How much can a city council candidate spend to get one of those seven seats?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2018



If what we are hearing is true candidates are out there knocking on doors asking for votes.

You get to decide who you want to represent you two months from today. Do your homework and make what you believe to be the best person for your interest and the wider interests of the city.

Many people are still disappointingly unaware that they are voting city council candidates into two jobs: as city Councillors and as Regional Councillors. Half of their income comes from the Regional government.

We were interviewing a city council candidate who had no idea what Regional Council does but said that (gender neutral here) would learn very quickly. I didn’t leave that interview with a lot of confidence an on how (gender neutral) would perform.

Another candidate made an interesting observation. Gender neutral said “people are feeling threatened with some of the changes that are taking place and they don’t understand why this is all in front of them now.”

City hall drank that Money Sense magazine Kool Aid and believed that Burlington was the best mid-sized city in the country and that they were doing their jobs.

Well – that turned out to be less than true. Those that were trusted weren’t doing their jobs and they are now being called to account.

Several months before the 2014 election Mayor Rick Goldring is reported to have said he was very comfortable with the council he had and would be content if they were returned – and they were all returned. That is not likely to happen in 2018. There are far too many really good candidates who bring a lot to the table.

Getting to city council is not cheap: The Clerk’s office provided us with the following spending limits for each ward.

Head of council: $7,500 + $0.85 per elector
All other offices: $5,000 + $0.85 per elector

                                   Number of Electors          Maximum ExpensesCity Hall BEST aerial
Mayor                   126,791                              $115,272.35
Councillor Ward 1   19552                                 $21,619.20
Councillor Ward 2   17547                                 $19,914.95
Councillor Ward 3   17712                                 $20,055.20
Councillor Ward 4   26638                                $27,642.30
Councillor Ward 5   22763                                $24,348.55
Councillor Ward 6   22579                                $24, 192.15

These are interesting numbers. A candidate in ward 1 can spend $21,619.20 to get elected to a job that will pay them slightly more than $100,000 a year for four years. From a personal standpoint – is that a good investment?

The Gazette knows of one candidate who has committed $9000 of his own money to his election.

How many people pay that much to get a job?

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5 comments to How much can a city council candidate spend to get one of those seven seats?

  • Wendy Moraghan

    In response to Carie’s comment, I was NOT a “community engagement officer” . I was a proud sworn member of the Halton Regional Police Service, and retired as a Detective Constable. Much of my policing career was spent in specialized units requiring extensive training. I was heavily involved in Community Policing throughout my career, working with kids teaching the D.A.R.E. Program and also training police officers across Canada and the Philippines. I worked with the mental health outreach team (C.O.A.S.T.) facilitating outreach in the community to people in crisis. I held the position of Elder Services Coordinator, sitting on numerous government committees, educating seniors, caregivers and their families about elder abuse, conducted training for staff at long term care homes and retirement homes, educating the staff about the Retirement Homes Act and the Long Term Care Homes Act, I was selected by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario to speak to nurses from across Canada as part of the P.E.A.C.E. project (Promoting the Awareness of Elder Abuse in Long Term Care). I was responsible for the selection, training, and coordination of over 75 senior volunteers for the Halton Seniors Helpline and Halton S.A.L.T. (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) and wrote the business plan put forward to the Halton Regional Police Service to have these volunteers recognized as Halton Police volunteers. I assisted in the volunteer policy development and was responsible for the re-work of their policy and procedure manual. I was an investigator in the Domestic Violence Unit and an advocate for victims of violence. I then finished my career working in the Homicide Unit. Please get your facts straight before you make public comments about a person’s career and accomplishments! PLUS I live in Ward 5 and have done so for 31 years.

  • Carie

    I fully intend to interview the candidates in my ward to find out what their career experience is, what their knowledge of City and Regional Issues are and have been, what has been their past experience and past engagement with municipal issues at the citizen level and how they are going to use that knowledge and experience to be a leader in this city.
    Just being a career communications spokesperson, or an IT Specialist, or a community engagement officer, or an accountant doesn’t make one “qualified” for the job. To have the critical thinking and collaborative skills to be a city leader, one really needs to know how the city and region actually runs, and one should have experience attending city council meetings, being an advocate for citizens concerns, know the complexities as well as all the methodology that goes into planning and development at the municipal level.

  • Hélène

    You are very kind to the candidate whose knowledge of the components of the role of councillor is so lacking. What has gender-neutral candidate done to deserve the luxury of anonymity? If that candidate is running in my ward I would like to know the name, so that I will not vote for that candidate.

  • Hans

    Re: “ that a good investment…?” Probably, if there is a defined benefit pension credit accumulated during the term in office.

  • Stephen White

    “We were interviewing a city council candidate who had no idea what Regional Council does but said that (gender neutral here) would learn very quickly”.

    OMG! You have got to be kidding!

    I can appreciate people wanting to stand for election because they have a desire to serve the community. That is all very noble and upstanding….but to consider running for public office without fully comprehending a key component of the role demonstrates both incredible naivete and lack of awareness. Sorry, but this election we really can’t afford to spend time providing on-the-job training. The expectation is that the new Council and Mayor will “hit the ground running”.

    This is why candidate debates and public forums will be critical to engage and inform the electorate. There are a lot of tough questions that need to be asked and answered. Sadly, a pretty website, cute one liners on Twitter, and lovely family pictures on Facebook, won’t make up for the lack of a substantive policy platform, limited depth of understanding of the issues, and viable solutions to deal with real problems.