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Time and money: The cost of running for N.B. municipal elections

Chris MacDonald, a candidate for Riverview town council, says campaiging costs include signage, social media advertising and vehicle expenses. Callum Smith / Global News

With the exception of the Edmundston region, which is still in ‘lockdown’ of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan, New Brunswickers are heading to the polls May 10 to cast ballots for the municipal election.

Aside from laying out a platform and vision for your community, campaigning takes money and time.

Chris MacDonald, a candidate for Riverview town council, says in all so far, he’s had five of his election signs vandalized. Other candidates were hit in the same area, he says.

Vandalized signs are “an unfortunate expectation,” he says. But aside from the morale hit, it can also cost more money for the candidates.

“Especially given the current costs of wood,” MacDonald says. “An average large sign would probably take six-to-seven pieces of two-by-four, so in current market conditions, that’s $70-80 just in lumber alone without the cost of the actual signs themselves.”

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And with approximately 20 of those signs around town, not including lawn signs, costs can add up.

Of course, each campaign is different based on the candidate and the municipality.

“For one campaign, they might have a lot of signs, they might actually have a campaign office, they might have quite a few volunteers,” says Margot Cragg, the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick’s executive director. “Whereas another campaign, it might be you and your brother-in-law and a tank of gas, and maybe a couple signs if you’re feeling fancy. So, the costs will be highly dependent on the size of your campaign and the outreach the candidates are doing.”

On top of signage and vehicle costs, social media advertising can be another expense.

But at the municipal level, candidates don’t have any form of party support.

“These costs come directly out of the pockets of candidates,” MacDonald says.

Of course, some campaigns are supported by donations, but campaigning with a full-time job is another challenge. So perhaps the biggest cost is time.

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“Everybody has to strike that balance,” MacDonald says. “First and foremost, you have to have the support of your family and friends. Secondary to that would be the support of your employer.”

Meanwhile, costs could also be minimal, or, in some cases, non-existent.

Yvon Godin, the incumbent mayor for the Village of Bertrand, has been acclaimed with no challengers seeking mayoral election.

But even if there were other candidates, Godin says a campaign might’ve only cost about $100 to create and send information pamphlets to constituents.

“In a small municipality of 1,200 people like ours, most of the people know ourselves right now,” he says.

But without fundraising or campaign costing rules for New Brunswick municipal elections, the playing fields can vary for those seeking office.

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