Mayoral chains come at high cost

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013
John Morrison
FAIRFAX NZ
John Morrison: "I ran [for council] to give people an alternative and it was pretty close. "

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Celia Wade-Brown won the Wellington mayoralty, but it was runner-up John Morrison who pulled in the lion's share of donations for the October campaign.

Wade-Brown spent $56,990 to keep hold of the Wellington City mayoral chains, and recouped only $4200 in donations - a net investment of $52,790 to land the $158,000-a-year job.

Morrison spent slightly less, at $55,000, but recouped nearly half of that in donations, leaving him to stump up $34,640 of his own money.

He received $7860 in anonymous donations, ranging from $10 to $1499, $10,000 from investment group Caniwi Capital, and $2500 from the Museum Hotel.

Wade-Brown said her campaign had accepted donations but had not actively solicited them and, although she was pro-business, many of her supporters were not on high incomes.

"I've had three years being paid a mayor's salary. In my view, it's up to me to fund my campaign."

She was slightly surprised to see the amount of donations some candidates received, and she had taken a view that all contributors, no matter how small the donation, should be identified.

Morrison did not return calls yesterday.

Other mayoral candidates also spent up large - Nicola Young, who got a seat on the council, spent $32,400 and got all bar $960 of it back in donations. These included $3000 from Tirohanga Holdings and just over $20,000 in non-itemised "other" donations.

Jack Yan spent $17,810, under his estimate of $20,000, and was supported with $10,200 in donations. Karunanidhi Muthu spent $13,990, all of it his own.

Former councillor Rob Goulden spent the least; his mayoral campaign cost just under $2000.

Among council candidates, first-time councillor Mark Peck led the pack with a $17,580 bill while Ray Ahipene-Mercer, a veteran with six elections under his belt, spent just $1670.

Of those who did not win seats, Northern candidate Peter Gilberd spent the most, at $27,170. He received $12,500 in donated advertising on Newlands Coach Services - gifted by Wade-Brown's husband and campaign manager, Alastair Nicholson.

Nicholson said he won the advertising in a charity auction for $3000, but as he would have had to declare it as spending of $12,500, it would have blown his wife's limit.

"I looked at the other candidates we supported and at who could use it . . . it was either a candidate in the Northern ward or another mayoral candidate, which obviously I wasn't going to do."

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Some of the Wellington City Council candidates' spends and donations. All candidates' returns are on the city council website.

MAYORAL HOPEFULS:

Celia Wade-Brown (won mayoralty): spent $56,990, got $4200 in donations

John Morrison: spent $55,000; $20,360 donations

Nicola Young (won Lambton seat): spent $32,400; $31,440 donations

Jack Yan: spent $17,810; $10,200 donations

Karunanidhi Muthu: spent $13,990; no donations over $1500

Rob Goulden: spent $1980, $180 donations

COUNCILLORS:

Mark Peck (Lambton): spent $17,580; $1500 in-kind donations

David Lee (Southern): spent $17,250

Paul Eagle (Southern): spent $13,470

Helen Ritchie (Northern): spent $12,520

Simon Woolf (Onslow-Western): spent $10,500; $10,500 donations

Sarah Free (Eastern): spent $9780; $4880 donations

Malcolm Sparrow (Northern): spent $9540

Iona Pannett (Lambton): spent $8020

Simon Marsh (Eastern): spent $6190

Justin Lester (Northern): spent $2980

Andy Foster (Onslow-Western): spent $2770

Jo Coughlan (Onslow-Western): spent $2160

Ray Ahipene-Mercer (Eastern): spent $1670

UNSUCCESSFUL CONTENDERS:

Peter Gilberd (Northern): spent $27,170; $12,500 donations

John Dow (Lambton): spent $16,960

John Coleman (Eastern): spent $15,740; $10,770 donations

Martin Wilson (Onslow-Western): spent $8280; $2000 donations

Malcolm Aitken (Onslow-Western): spent $8120

Donald McDonald (Southern): spent $7420

Rex Nicholls (Lambton): spent $6550

Ginette McDonald (Southern): spent $4330

Leonie Gill (Eastern): spent $2560

Bryan Pepperell (Southern): spent $1750

- The Dominion Post

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