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Niagara Falls
Monday, June 17, 2024
Zalepa won at ballot box but Disero had more donations
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa spent $9,979 on advertising in the 2022 municipal election. EVAN LOREE

The candidates who sought seats in last fall’s municipal election raised thousands of dollars from grassroots and deep-pocketed supporters alike, election expense documents show.

Running for elected office can be expensive and it turns out that generating more donations than opponents did not guarantee winning the top job in 2022.

Financial statements from October’s municipal election are posted on the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s website and show that despite winning the mayoral race by almost 1,200 votes, Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa did not attract the most donations.

Zalepa raised $18,500 from about 30 donors during his run, which culminated in his election win over Betty Disero and Vaughn Goettler on Oct. 24.

However, Disero, the incumbent, brought in $21,250 from 54 donors. Goettler received $12,849 from 20 contributors.

As well, Zalepa claimed expenses of $1,239 for a “thank you party” and $619 for a “kick off event,” while Disero noted expenses of $750 for food and another $4,152 related to a “fundraising event or activity.”

She also spent $1,183 hosting meetings while Zalepa had $175 in meeting expenses.

Goettler listed no expenses for “parties and other expressions of appreciation” but included expenses of $1,304 for hosting meetings.

Goettler spent the most on advertising, a total of $11,204. Zalepa’s advertising totalled $9,979 and Disero spent $4,625.

Disero’s election signs cost her $8,788, while Zalepa spent $6,639 and Goettler’s total was $6,356.

Office expense allocations ranged from $61 for Goettler to $132 for Zalepa and $561 for Disero.

Phone and internet costs were $1,159 for Disero, $319 for Goettler and zero for Zalepa.

Candidates had until March 31 to file their financial statements.

The maximum donation permitted by law is $1,200 and most donors gave small amounts to individual candidates but there were a few who donated generously to more than one.

Of those contributors, Blair McArthur was one of the more notable.

The owner of the McArthur Estate donated $1,200 to each of Disero, Goettler and Coun. Maria Mavridis, plus another $1,000 to Coun. Gary Burroughs for a total of $4,600.

McArthur gave the most of all the donors listed in the financial statements.

Frank Racioppo, a real estate lawyer and part-owner of the Queenston Quarry Reclamation Company, gave $1,200 to Zalepa, Allan Bisback and Coun. Erwin Wiens, and another $500 to Katherine Reid, for a total of $4,100.

Joseph Racioppo also gave $1,200 to Burroughs and council candidates Wendy Cheropita and Nick Ruller, for a total of $3,600.

Bruce Gitelman, a spokesperson for Residents for Sustainable Tourism, donated $1,200 to Bisback, $500 each to John McCallum and Mavridis, and another $250 to Ruller. His wife Wendy gave an additional $1,000 to Bisback.

Together, the Gitelmans contributed $3,450 to the candidates.

Resident Yolanta Kaneff gave $4,000 to four winning candidates.

She contributed $1,000 each to successful candidates Sandra O’Connor, Adriana Vizzari, Mavridis and Andrea Kaiser, who won the regional race.

Goettler also donated $1,200 to O’Connor and Disero gave $500 to the campaign of Mavridis.

Several other residents also donated to multiple campaigns.

In the race for a seat on council, Burroughs led in donations, collecting $14,500.

Of the candidates who were elected, he was followed by Wiens ($9,600 in donations), Cheropita ($7,800), Vizzari ($5,000), Mavridis ($4,550), Ruller ($3,050) and Tim Balasiuk ($1,450).

Bisback, who was a councillor during the previous term but was not re-elected, received $4,400.

The other candidates who did not win a seat on council also reported the donations they received, including McCallum ($2,260), Richard Mell ($1,150), Alistair Harlond ($700) and Katherine Reid ($500).

John Hale, the only third-party advertiser officially registered for the campaign, claimed income of $2,840 along with advertising costs of $2,237 and $500 for holding meetings.

In the regional race, Kaiser, who won the seat, reported $4,450 in total donations.

Pat Darte, Paolo Miele and Barbara Worthy reported no large donations from the public.

Darte, who was lord mayor from 2014 to 2018, dropped out of the race early. He and his wife contributed $5,022 of their own to his campaign.

Miele left the funding section of his report blank but stated his campaign cost $3,597.

William Roberts reported $1,600 in large donations and almost $1,500 more in smaller ones.

Worthy, who also dropped out, reported no revenue or expenses.

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