Earnshaw tops spending

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013
timaru election spending
Election spending in the Timaru District.

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Dollars did not always translate into votes in Timaru's local government elections.

Candidates have now provided their election expenses to electoral officer Mark Low, and they were all well within their spending limits.

Steve Earnshaw and Damon Odey could spend up to $30,000 for their mayoral campaigns, while those running for ward seats could spend no more than $20,000.

The expenses, unless declared otherwise, came out of the candidates' pockets.

Mr Earnshaw spent $12,235 on his campaign for council and mayoralty, which included $3187 on signs, $3606 on press releases and copywriting provided by Imagine PR, and $2660 on newspaper advertising.

He also spent $647 on targeted advertising on Google and Facebook.

Mr Earnshaw was re-elected to the council but lost to Mr Odey in October's head-to-head mayoral contest by 4647 votes.

"It's hard to know what works. I imagine advertising through social media will become more common in future campaigns, but we've got a generational divide," Mr Earnshaw said.

"The older demographic are still the biggest voting population. They still get most of their information from print and radio. Yet the younger demographic get all their information online."

Mr Odey spent $8807 on his campaign, while he also received a $2300 donation for some signs and flyers.

He placed dozens of signs around the community, but his most costly campaign expense was print and radio advertising ($5512 all up).

"You get good bang for your buck from signs. If you have it placed along the Hilton Highway, a good 17,000 people would see it every day," Mr Odey said.

"I kept the message simple across all formats. You have to start your campaign long before you put up that first hoarding."

Re-elected councillor Tracy Tierney was the highest-spending Timaru ward candidate ($6024). However, she ran on a "ticket" with Mr Earnshaw and the pair shared advertising material.

Steve Wills was the highest-polling candidate in the ward contest (8746 votes) but spent only $460 on four hoardings during the campaign period.

Mr Wills is a senior constable and has also been involved in the community as a coach and selector for several sports teams.

"I suppose a lot of people knew what I was about. I was a bit nervous about putting my mug on a hoarding because you open yourself up to ridicule," he said.

It was Mr Wills' first campaign for local government.

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The other successful Timaru ward candidates were David Jack (5498 votes, $1169), Anthony Brien (4662 votes, $4173) and Peter Burt (6347 votes, $1011).

Unsuccessful candidate Heather Woolstencroft was the lowest spender ($287 on a sign).

South Canterbury District Health Board candidates had a limit of $30,000.

Re-elected member Peter Binns was the biggest spender ($5685.76), mostly on signs and newspaper advertising.

In contrast, Paul Annear was re-elected despite a cost-free campaign.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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