Local body election’s big spenders revealed
One spent around double the secondhighest spender
AWhanganui district councillor with a slogan of “no spin, straightforward” spent $18,700 on a communications expert during last year’s local election campaign.
Candidates’ election expenditure declarations show Peter Oskam hired Kerry Parkin, of Hum Communications, as campaign strategist, campaign brand designer and campaign manager.
Hum Communications’ invoice says activities undertaken included speech-writing and the development of presentations for public meetings, creating a campaign brand and designing branding strategies, and developing campaign marketing strategies tailored to target audiences.
Another was “researching and analysing the current situation”, which involved formulating overall goals and key campaign messages.
The transaction of $18,700 was more than any other candidate spent on their entire campaign, and Oskam’s final tally of $22,941.20 was around double that of the secondhighest spending candidate.
He secured 6498 votes, enough to claim the 11th spot on the council.
Oskam could not be reached by the Chronicle for comment.
A candidate’s election expenditure can’t exceed $30,000 in a local government area with a population smaller than 60,000 but larger than 39,999.
Successful mayoral candidate Andrew Tripe declared a total of $10,900.49 and former mayor Hamish McDouall’s expenses came in at $11,268.78. The third mayoral candidate, DC Harding, spent $5500.
According to the Local Electoral Act 2001, every candidate must file a return of electoral donations and expenses within 55 days “after the day on which the successful candidates at any election are declared to be elected”.
Dan Jackson, Blair Jones and James Newell are yet to return declarations.
Whanganui electoral officer Warwick Lampp said all candidates had been requested to submit them.
“As declarations have yet to be received from B Jones, D Jackson and J Newell, I will be referring their details to the police for follow-up soon,” he said.
According to the Local Electoral Act 2001, a candidate who fails, without reasonable excuse, to supply an expense form commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1000.
In other declarations, returning councillor Charlie Anderson made a $500 donation to Tripe’s campaign.
Unsuccessful council candidates Phil Reweti and Aisha Beazley declared zero expenditure, but others shelled out thousands, with Andreas Bodenstein spending $1415.69, Scott Phillips $2269.62, Rory Smith $2139.07 and James Barron $5143.63.
Oskam was joined at the council table by fellow first-timers Ross Fallen ($766.50), Charlotte Melser ($3500.02), Michael Law ($8943.92) and Glenda Brown ($6361.39). Signs, timber, posters, pamphlets, and print and online advertising took up the majority of most candidates’ funds.
Some listed their $200 nomination fee, but that cost wasn’t applicable.
A candidate who knowingly files a return that is false “in any material particular” could face a prison term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding $10,000.