Campaign cash not a factor in mayoral poll

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2013

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It may have been a tight mayoral race but, when it came to campaigning, the candidates certainly did not scrimp.

The three mayoral candidates for the Southland District Council spent up a storm during the election, but the man who spent the least got the most votes.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong spent just $4032.61 on his successful campaign, compared to deputy mayor Paul Duffy, who spent more than $18,000 on his endeavours.

The third candidate, John Douglas, spent $9615.

Mr Duffy and Mr Douglas both said that, despite the significant amount of money spent on their campaigns, it was a learning experience.

"It was, however, a tremendous learning experience and something of that magnitude is never wasted," Mr Douglas said.

"Sure it cost a lot of money, but I think I know a lot more about Southland and Southlanders, and I learnt a lot about myself as well."

Mr Douglas said despite the 5000 billboards, posters and fliers he printed, if he were to do it again he would harness the power of social media.

Mr Duffy said he also used posters and billboards, which was what most of his funding went on.

It was disappointing to spend so much and not win the mayoralty race, but "the money wasn't really the thing that was disappointing", he said.

An error in the first round of printing also racked up the cost of the campaign, he said.

Mr Tong said his spending may have been small in comparison but the most valuable tool he used was simply talking to people.

"I did 7000km on my campaign. I think getting out and meeting people and stopping and talking to people was the best use of my time."

He said while he hoped he was unopposed at the next election, if he were challenged, he would spend less money and take more time to meet people in the district.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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