Ashton’s election victory in Penticton cost $7.40 a vote

Former mayor's election expenses released this week and show a major portion of his cash was spent on marketing materials

With a Glenn Clark painting in the background

With a Glenn Clark painting in the background

Each vote Dan Ashton tallied in this spring’s provincial election cost his campaign the equivalent of a cheap lunch, according to financial information released by Elections B.C.

The non-partisan office of the legislature published electoral financing reports this week for most candidates — and their respective parties — who ran for office in May.

Ashton, who won the Penticton riding by a narrow margin under the Liberal banner, also narrowly outspent the B.C. NDP runner-up.

The former Penticton mayor reported election expenditures of $85,533.88 that earned 11,551 votes, for a per-vote cost of $7.40.

Second-place finisher Dick Cannings spent $84,612 and received 10,154 votes, equal to $8.33 per vote.

B.C. Conservative Sean Upshaw placed third with 2,277 votes that cost $2.23 each, while fourth-place finisher Doug Maxwell for the B.C. First Party spent $4.43 on each of his 1,181 votes.

Ashton, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, reported transfers from the B.C. Liberal Party totalling $41,957.80, and political contributions totalling $50,495.

The largest donation to Ashton’s campaign was a $10,000 gift from Siva Contracting Ltd.

An online listing for the company shows it shares a phone number and address with Peters Bros. Construction in Penticton.

A woman who answered the phone there Tuesday said the two companies are linked “in a way,” but that no one was available to discuss the donation.

On the expense side, Ashton spent $34,465.41 on advertising and other promotional materials. His next most expensive charge was described as data processing and information technology at a cost of $9,643.70.

Cannings, meanwhile, put $22,922 towards advertising and promotional materials, and spent another  $22,075 on salaries and benefits.

“In hindsight, I wish I had more money to spend,” Cannings said.

“I noticed during the campaign, (Ashton) had a lot of ads in the paper, which we couldn’t afford to put in.”

Cannings reported total political contributions of $48,911, and transfers from the B.C. NDP and his local constituency association of $70,080.

He thinks the cash injections from the party signalled its strong desire to win Penticton.

“I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but I think part of that would be they thought this was a riding they thought we could win, so they were going to put some resources into it,” Cannings said.

His campaign also reported three dinner fundraisers, the first of which lost $488, while the other two brought in a combined $1,929.

Cannings’ biggest contribution was a $5,000 gift from a numbered company headed by a Ross Beaty.

The numbered company shares a Vancouver address with Alterra Power Corp., the executive chairman of which is a Ross Beaty, described in April by the Globe and Mail as a mining financier.