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What Colin Basran had during the election that rival Sharon Shepherd didn't

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran outspent his election rival Sharon Shepherd by over three to one.
February 23, 2015 - 1:16 PM

KELOWNA — The 2014 mayoral race in Kelowna, which quickly came down to current councillor Colin Basran versus former mayor Sharon Shepherd, was billed as youth versus experience. It might have been better pegged as 'have' and 'have-not.'

Winner, and now Mayor, Basran outspent Shepherd well over three to one, raising through contributions almost $76,000 to the former mayor Shepherd's $22,000.

Basran's campaign may have also set a new record in Kelowna. In the 2012 campaign, Walter Gray doubled Shepherd's campaign, raising just shy of $60,000.

Just as significant was Basran’s ability to attract the corporate dollar, pulling in just shy of $20,000 from the likes of Ted Callahan and Argus Industries ($500) and Kelowna Cabs ($2,000) plus a bevy of smaller development companies such as Dilworth Quality Homes ($500) and Evergreen Lands Ltd ($1,000).

Westcorp Property Management Inc. through owner Phil Milroy also donated $2,000. Westcorp is the development company behind the 24-storey hotel set to begin construction this fall at Queensway and Mill. Kelowna’s last mayor, Walter Gray and his wife donated a combined $400 to Basran, but also gave him a public endorsement during the campaign.

Shepherd has long declared she would never accept money from developers. She pulled just $5,400 from corporations, most of which had a family tie. She pulled a further $3,500 from incorporated businesses and commercial organizations. She was also outpaced by Basran in small donations of less than $100. Basran picked up $4,000 from 46 donors to Shepherd’s $1,400 from 19.

Basran makes no apologies for raising more money and outspending his rivals. “I’m proud of the fact we had people from a wide demographic who wanted to see me become mayor and were willing to donate to my campaign,” he said.

A cornerstone of Basran’s campaign was the extensive use of social media, at least compared to other candidates, although Basran said that may have got him more votes than money.

“The demographic that is most active on social media tend to be young people who don’t necessarily have a lot of disposable income,” he said. “A good portion of our funds went to social media, especially Facebook and Youtube, because we felt that was where we would have the most reach. I had young people coming up to me telling me it was the first time they had ever voted and they had heard of me through social media.

Basran’s biggest campaign single expense was for Internet advertising ($15,800) but Shepherd wasn’t far behind in that category, spending just over $10,000 herself. Still, Basran spent $26,000 on more traditional media including brochures, flyers, signs and billboards. Shepherd actually spent significantly less in the traditional media category, just $6,000.

Both candidates report spending money on other advertising, including $5,400 for Basran and $850 for Shepherd. No details are given for this category.

— Updated 5:00 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 with new quotes from Mayor Colin Basran.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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