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With the upcoming municipal election this October, things will be changing at city hall as Chestermerians will be electing a new Mayor and council.
As prospective candidates start to come forward with new ideas and campaign promises so too come the requests for campaign funding.
“While election campaigning is an exciting time for candidates it’s really important for them to remember that under the act they do have financial obligations to follow,” said City of Chestermere Legislative Coordinator Jillian Borsuk.
The Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) sets out the rules for municipal elections in Alberta.
Included in that are the regulations governing campaign financing.
“There’s a lot of regulations around things such as how you can fund your campaign, who can fund your campaign and how much they can contribute,” said Borsuk.
The LAEA also defines how a candidate can use the funds received for their campaign for public office. These rules also apply to what happens with surplus funds after the election is over.
To accept campaign contributions, a prospective candidate has to register their intent to run at city hall prior to accepting any form of campaign donation.
Currently there are five candidates for city council that have registered with the city and are eligible to start fundraising for their campaign should they wish to do so.
A candidate can accept donations from individuals, corporations and other organizations up to a maximum of $5000 in either cash or other services that have a set value per donation.
“So it’s really anything with a value,” said Borsuk, “it could be property space or room rental.”
Volunteering for a campaign is exempt from the campaigning financing rules however.
“And it’s also important for candidates to remember that receipts must be issued for every…contribution that’s made to their campaign,” said Borsuk.
Should a candidate drop out of the race or have a surplus after the election, the money raised for the campaign will either be held in trust for the next election or it can be donated to a charity of the candidate’s choice or added to the city’s general revenues,
Candidates are also allowed to self-finance their campaigns up to a limit of $10,000.
A key difference in a self-funded campaign is that no notice of intent is needed prior to nomination day.
The city encourages prospective candidates to familiarize themselves with the laws governing local elections.
Regardless of how a candidate plans to fund their campaign it is important to understand the election rules.
“It’s important to read up on it ‘cause it is a very detailed topic and there are a lot of regulations around it,” said Borsuk.