A candidate for council in the District of Hope is offering his competitors a challenge, to inject $83,000 back into the local economy by donating their wages as elected officials to a charity of their choice.
“If I’m elected, I will put my salary back into the community through a charitable organization. And if all six councillors and the mayor do the same, we can inject almost $100,000 back into the community every year,” he said in a Youtube video published Sept. 25.
Stock, a first-time candidate for council who said he was surprised to find out councillors even had a wage, said most people on council have full-time jobs so it wouldn’t be a stretch for them to donate those wages back into the community.
“Just imagine if the food bank got $80,000 that they did not expect in the first year? Amazing. What if we gave almost $100,000 to Purple Light? There’s just so much more. One hundred thousand dollars to hospice at the hospital,” he said. “I want to do something different, something unique. Let’s shake it up, but let’s get results.”
“A hundred percent the food bank,” Stock said when asked where he would donate his $10,000 if elected on Oct. 20. “You know what? I’ll write a post-dated cheque now.”
From 2016 to 2017, Stock said 183 elderly people used Hope’s food bank. In total, close to 20 percent of the population, or 1,100 people, use the service.
This calendar year, each of Hope’s six councillors will earn $10,384.67, while the Mayor will earn $20,763.21. Collectively all elected officials will earn $83,071 in 2018.
The wages are lower than many communities including Kent and Harrison as well as communities across B.C. of a similar size to Hope.
The idea of increasing the wages of Hope’s elected officials was discussed at an April 24 council meeting, the plan was to recruit residents for a committee to look into the idea. Few applications were received, so the idea was shelved for the time being.
When asked his thought about the increase discussed, Stock replied “well, if there’s an increase let’s put it into the community.”
Stock, a financial analyst working towards becoming a chartered professional accountant, said there are affluent people on council now.
As for the candidates and incumbents who don’t have the means to donate their wages, “nobody is forced to do this. Nobody is forced to donate. I’m just challenging people, let’s do it,” Stock said. “If you can you should.”
All mayoral and council candidates were asked their opinion on Stock’s challenge via email. Mayor Wilfried Vicktor and council candidates Matthew Steberl and Sung Yun Wong chose to respond.
“I would personally have been more impressed with this promise had it happened after an election,” Vicktor stated, adding he will not participate in the challenge.
“Any Mayor or council member who works hard for the district will provide huge value to the District, and since the Mayor and council are the lowest paid officials in the District of Hope, no one I have ever met had objected to Mayor and Council getting paid a little for their efforts,” he stated.
Sung Yun Wong, the only out of town candidate who has already bowed out of the all candidate meeting Oct. 3 as he’s also speaking at and running in the District of Kent’s election, promised to donate his entire salary should he win. He wrote he would follow Stock’s lead on which charity to donate to as he is ‘not that familiar with local charities in Hope.’
Steberl declined to participate in such a challenge, stating while Stock most likely had the best intentions with issuing the challenge it could land him in hot water with election officials. The challenge, he wrote, is probably considered an election expense and it would put Stock over the spending limit for local election campaigns.
“Nothing in the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act prevents a challenge like this,” Andrew Watson, manager of communications for Elections BC, stated in an email. “Candidates cannot make charitable contributions using campaign funds, but nothing under the legislation we administer prevents an elected official from contributing their salary as an elected official to charity, nor from making claims during the election that they will do so if elected.”
The expense limit for Hope council candidates during the Sept. 22 to Oct. 20 campaign period is $5,000, for mayoral candidates the amount is $10,000 according to Elections BC.
Stock issued the challenge on Facebook and Youtube, where he also outlined his platform.
Thirteen candidates are running for six seats at the District of Hope: elections take place Oct. 20.
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