Former Saskatoon mayor Henry Dayday says communications allowances used by the mayor and city councillors leave him undecided about running in the 2016 civic election.
At a press conference held at the Nutana Legion, Dayday said he’s concerned that, as he ponders a potential run for mayor, his competition of current mayor Don Atchison and Ward 6 councillor Charlie Clark may have a leg up on him.
“Do the two people who are now running as incumbents,and maybe more, have one set of rules and do we the rest of us have another set of rules? I’d like to know that before I say I’m going to run or not run,” he said.
Guidelines for the allowances expressly forbid using the money for campaign fundraising. Under the city’s code of conduct for elected officials, incumbents are further prohibited from using any city resources during an election period.
Under the code, incumbents won’t be allowed to use any city resources from Sept. 21 until election day on Oct. 26. Along with the communications money, this includes things like city email addresses, phones, laptops and business cards. Incumbents are also not to use their elected titles during the election period.
Dayday said he’s concerned the communications money could still be used before the election period to benefit incumbents. He said he wants clarification on the rules around the allowances and on when the spending is reported publicly.
According to the City of Saskatoon website, the expenses are reported each fiscal year — which would mean after election day for 2016.
Dayday said he thinks council ought to repeal the bylaw and eliminate the allowances. Even still, he said he still may run for mayor if that doesn’t happen. With the deadline to enter the race not until September, he said he feels there’s still plenty of time.
Dayday forwarded his concerns to council in a letter. He sent a similar letter back in January, at that time, council referred the matter to the Municipal Review Commission (MRC), asking commission members to recommend guidelines during their review of the city code of conduct.
Charlie Clark said the MRC has now put together a report. He said he expects it will be discussed by councillors at the Governance and Priorities Committee soon.
“The whole point of having an independent body reviewing these is so that councillors are limiting the amount that we’re setting our own rules,” he said.
Clark said he is confident that when his 2016 communications expenses are reported out, they’ll show he’s kept that money out of his mayoral campaign.
“I have not spent money from my communications allowance on any of my expenses related to the campaign. In fact, I haven’t spent any money from my communications allowance at all for several months. Partly because I knew that already people were speculating on me running, and I wanted to make sure it was very clear that I wasn’t using taxpayer dollars to allocate towards that,” he said.
A spokesperson for Mayor Don Atchison declined to respond directly to Dayday’s remarks. However, the mayor has used the bulk of his communications budget to cover the salary of a communications’ officer. That contract is set to end effective Aug. 31, in order to comply with the code of conduct provisions around election spending.
Dayday previously served as mayor of Saskatoon from 1988 to 2000.