Spending cuts and donation limits will hit Langley campaigns

The Elections BC rules for the next civic elections are drawing a mixed response so far.

Some Langley candidates will have to cut their spending for the upcoming civic elections under new limits announced May 1 by Elections BC.

In Langley Township, the new limit more than $20,000 under what sitting Mayor Jack Froese spent in his 2014 campaign.

The limits are based on the local population, so they vary from community to community.

In Langley Township, the spending cap for mayoral candidates will be $77,001.50, while council candidates can spend a maximum of $39,064.40.

“I think it’s great that there are now some limits,” said Froese, who spent almost $100,000 in the 2014 campaign.

His opponent in the upcoming race, Councillor Kim Richter, was less enthusiastic about the rules, although she had no problem with the new limits.

The new rules limit candidates to spending just $2,400 on their own campaigns.

Richter spent a little more than $14,000 on her 2014 council campaign, but self-funded most of that, spending $10,000 of her own money.

The lower limit means relative unknowns will have a harder time because they can spend relatively little.

“That’s not even going to buy their signs,” Richter said of the $2,400 personal spending limit.

However, candidates can not save money by re-using signs. According to Andrew Watson of Elections BC, candidates will have to declare the value of any re-used signs or materials, at current market value.

Froese said that despite the much lower limit than his 2014 campaign, he was expecting this and his election team is prepared.

There is one change he would make – allowing those who donate to a campaign to receive a tax receipt. Unlike provincial and federal campaigns, local campaign donations are not tax deductible, Froese said.

“That would be one change I hope they look at,” he said.

In much-smaller Langley City, mayoral candidates will be limited to spending $21,799.65, while council candidates will be capped at $10,961.64.

This year, Mayor Ted Schaffer has already announced he will not run again. Coun. Val van den Broek and Coun. Paul Albrecht recently announced they will run to replace him.

For the Langley School Board, the five candidates in the Township will be limited to spending $38,186.60, while the two candidates who run in Langley City will be limited to $12,061.48.

“The new election spending is a good thing and I believe is overdue,” Albrecht said, noting it should give an even playing field.

“In a community such as ours I do not see it having a dramatic impact,” he said.

He raised similar objections to Froese and Richter – concerns about the low self-financing limit, and about the lack of tax deductible contributions.

This will also be the first campaign in which donations from corporations and unions are banned, and personal donations are limited to $1,200 per candidate.

If there are slates, donors will only be allowed to give a maximum of $1,200 to the slate, rather than to each candidate, which could have an impact on party politics.

In recent history, only the Langley Leadership Team has managed success, with a majority on the then-seven-member council in the late 1990s. The Langley Citizens Coalition was formed to oppose them, but in the 1999 election, voters picked an independent mayor and only two LLT members and one LCC member were elected. Both groups later disbanded.

Richter was first elected as a member of the LCC, but has run as an independent ever since then.

Former mayor Rick Green tried to form a slate called Vote Langley Now in 2011, but he and all the slate members were defeated in that election.

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