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Here’s how much Mississauga’s mayoral candidates have raised so far

With weeks to go until the June 10 mayoral by-election day in Mississauga, campaigns are now busy putting up signs, using social media to get their messages out and trying to solidify their support. Experts say money makes a big difference in doing this well.

Money can be used for a range of purposes, including purchasing signs and flyers, hiring staff, renting space, investing in online marketing or paying firms to learn more about voters.

“Money matters,” said York University political scientist Dennis Pilon.

“Money doesn’t make people change their minds. But what money does is it raises the profile of different candidates and allows them to be seen and judged as more competitive than other candidates.”

Pilon says considerable research indicates that candidates that have more money are able to put up more signs, which affects people’s perceptions of the local race, often contributing to better election outcomes for those candidates. Facebook ads, billboards, radio ads and signs all contribute to people’s perceptions, he says, and a lot of voters are rational and want to support a candidate they think has a good shot of winning. 

Mississauga mayoral candidates currently have a maximum campaign spending limit of $469,701.10, of which $25,000 can be the candidate’s money.

Campaigns can accept donations of up to $1,200 per person and all donors must be Ontarians. Campaigns cannot accept donations from unions, corporations, political parties or other levels of government.

CBC Toronto asked some of the campaigns how their fundraising efforts are going. The numbers they provided are self-reported. CBC Toronto cannot independently verify the numbers provided by campaigns until after the election ends, when financial statements are made publicly available. 

As of May 15, here’s what campaigns told us about their efforts:

Carolyn Parrish

“Our team is tipping at the $400,000 mark,” Carolyn Parrish told CBC Toronto in an emailed statement.

She said she’s already held at least five formal fundraisers to date. Two fundraisers were scheduled on debate nights that she opted not to attend and Parrish says more fundraisers are scheduled for later in the campaign. She says she expects to meet its targets.

She says her priority will be to meet with residents and groups directly instead of attending debates.

Carolyn Parrish
Carolyn Parrish told CBC Toronto her team has already held several fundraisers, both formal and meet-and-greet style events. (X account of Carolyn Parrish)

Alvin Tedjo

“We’re approaching $200,000 fundraised with a number of events and hundreds of individual donations,” said Madalyn Calzavara, a spokesperson for Alvin Tedjo.

Calzavara says since Carolyn Parrish announced she was no longer attending debates, the Tedjo campaign has seen “a considerable rise in donations.”

“Dozens of people have organically donated to our campaign and we have raised tens of thousands of dollars,” she said, calling it “one of the most significant periods in donation support that we have seen so far in the race.”

Alvin Tedjo on May 13 following a debate
A spokesperson for the Alvin Tedjo campaign says the campaign has seen one of its most significant spikes in donations since fellow candidate Carolyn Parrish announced she was no longer attending debates. Tedjo is seen here talking to young Mississaugans following the More Homes Mississauga debate. (Clara Pasieka/CBC)

Stephen Dasko

“We are well on on way and in a very healthy position,” Stephen Dasko told CBC Toronto in an interview.

Dasko’s campaign declined to disclose specific figures for strategic reasons, but he said all their bills are paid and more money continues to come in, and he pointed to his past campaign for councillor, which ran a surplus that he donated back to the city. He says his mayoral fundraising has been a mix of events and individual giving.

Coun. Stephen Dasko
Mississauga mayoral candidate Stephen Dasko (CBC)

Dipika Damerla

“We have raised over $400K. We intend to raise the full spend and not have any debt,” said Aleem Kanji, co-chair of Dipika Damerla’s campaign, in a written statement.

He says the campaign has more donors giving small amounts and says the campaign is not focused on holding fundraising events.

“We are not leaning into events. It’s grassroots and individuals giving for Dipika’s campaign,” he said.

The Dipika Damerla campaign says it has raised over $400,000.
The Dipika Damerla campaign says it has raised over $400,000. (Clara Pasieka/CBC)

Money critical in final weeks

With Mississauga being such a large city there’s a lot of ground to cover, and money can help you do that, said Christine Simundson, a political strategist who has worked on campaigns, including for longtime mayor Hazel McCallion.

“Money would definitely help reach voters that you wouldn’t typically be able to reach,” she said.

Simundson says campaigns now need to be investing in ads on social media, in addition to traditional methods like flyers and signs. She says a campaign that’s behind on fundraising earlier on can still gain momentum and get voters out on election day, especially with city-wide events in the calendar and strong door-knocking efforts.

She says focusing too much on fundraising efforts and not enough on getting a candidate out there, both online and in person, could be “a losing strategy.” Even if you have a strong base from prior elections, like any current or recent councillor may have, she says it doesn’t garner many new voters across the city.

Pilon says the final weeks of the campaign are critical, and campaigns want to have enough money left to appear as though they have a consistent impact or are gaining momentum.

“Definitely having more money will benefit candidates more than having less money,” he said.

“But it doesn’t guarantee success.”

Here’s the full list of candidates:

  • Zulfiqar Ali
  • Diya Atassi
  • Brian Crombie
  • Dipika Damerla
  • Stephen Dasko
  • Jamie Dookie
  • Frank Fang
  • Xiaohua Gong
  • Winston Harding
  • Sara Iqbal
  • Syed Jaffery
  • Mohsin Khan
  • Mitchell MacEachern
  • Sinisa Mandrapa
  • Mike Matulewicz
  • Carolyn Parrish
  • David Shaw
  • George Tavares
  • Alvin Tedjo
  • Nathalie Xian Yi Yan

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