Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts celebrates her landslide election win last November.

Surrey First spent nearly $700K in municipal election

Mayor Dianne Watts' team swept city council last November.

Surrey First spent almost $700,000 to achieve a full sweep of city council last fall.

Financial disclosures indicate Mayor Dianne Watts’ Surrey First team spent $662,000 in the November municipal election, when the party won every seat on council.

It’s actually $10,000 less than Surrey First spent three years ago, when it didn’t achieve as much success.

One source said the team was careful not to “steamroll” the opposition with a big war chest.

The bulk of the slate’s spending went to advertising – $182,000 going to newspaper, radio and other electronic advertising, while another $77,000 went to non-traditional advertising.

Surrey First spent $46,000 on signs and pamphlets, and another $135,000 on campaign staff. The rest went to rent, couriers, furniture and office supplies.

Donors, mostly developers and business leaders, came out in numbers and with big cheques.

Qualico Developments (VCR) Inc. donated $11,000, B&B Contracting gave the party $9,000, and Bill’s Developments (Vancouver developer Bob Cheema) donated $8,000. Contributing $7,500 were Colliers International, Mosaic Homes, Gateway Casinos and Four Brothers Masonry.

A whole host of donors donated $5,000.

The official deadline for campaign disclosures isn’t until March 19, so most of the Surrey Civic Coalition’s numbers have not been filed yet.

Some of them have been, including school trustee Charlene Dobie, who spent $22,000 in her successful bid, and failed council hopeful Stephanie Ryan, who spent more than $23,000.

SCC’s Grant Rice spent $4,800, while failed incumbent councillor Bob Bose spent almost $30,000. About half of Bose’s amount came from the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

In fact, the vast majority of donations to SCC so far have come from unions, including CUPE and the Surrey Teachers’ Association.

Meanwhile, the cash spent trying to unseat Dianne Watts was significant and varied.

Mayoral candidate Vikram Bajwa spent $70,143 trying to secure the mayor’s chair, while Clifford Inimgba spent $27,687.

Deanna Welters and her team spent $859, while Touraj Ghanbar Zadeh parted with no money while running for mayor.

Ross Buchanan spent $37,572 of his own money in his unsuccessful bid for the mayor’s chair.

Buchanan said Tuesday he has no regrets, and that if he could wind back the clock, he’d do it all over again.

“Bad things happen when good people do nothing,” Buchanan said.

That said, he wouldn’t consider running municipally again until there is an independent, third-party oversight body managing the inner workings of the election.

All of the municipal campaign disclosure statements must be into the city clerk’s office by March 19.

@diakiw