North Bay councillor-elect Gary Gardiner did something rare in politics...got elected without spending any money to do it.
"My expense form has been submitted to the City Clerk. While the upper limit was $40,000 I was true to my word and spent zero. I feel privileged to be elected based on what I stand for and not based on how many signs, or the amount of advertising I could buy," he said.
Gardiner says it all started with a decision to protect the environment and not to have plastic signs that would have ended up as waste in the city dump, something that happened in the last election when he unsuccessfully ran for mayor.
So without that expense, Gardiner wondered how to spend his money on things like brochures and media advertising. Then the thought occurred to him about trying a zero-money campaign.
"It just kind of grew out of the sign thing and so I decided I'm not going to spend any money."
On his Facebook page, he wrote "Zero campaign. No donations accepted."
That meant he had to be better at explaining his position to people and in answering questions from groups like Sport North Bay. "I spent a lot of time trying to give more clear answers but I always took a stand on stuff."
"The campaign should be about what you stand for, your vision for moving the city forward, and how you communicate. So I didn't advertise or spend any money," he told BayToday.
People were calling Gardiner asking how they could donate to his campaign and offering cash.
"I said I'm not taking any campaign donations, and I realized it was a neat feeling to be able to say that and know I'm not answering to anybody, especially if it's a big $1,200 cheque."
Gardiner says it's human nature to feel you owe something back to people who fund your campaign, now he would be his own man.
"It's a relief in a strange way that I realize I don't owe anybody anything and I can speak on issues even if some of my friends don't agree with me, I don't feel any pressure."