‘Don’t tell me they don’t expect something in return’: Why municipal election candidates in the 905 are refusing lucrative donations from developers

Instead of accepting developer funds some candidates in the GTA are relying on grassroots donations or self-financing their campaigns.

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50 · 14 days ago · Reddit

Vaughan ward councillor Marilyn Iafrate, who has been in office since 2010, said running a campaign without developer donations has forced her to keep things simple and forgo big ticket items like a campaign office.

She said the city of Vaughan also offers a rebate on donations for 75 per cent of the total value of contributions up to a limit of $150, which has helped her raise funds from the public. Toronto also offers a rebate on donations.

But she said in her first two campaigns she had to put in thousands of dollars of her own money to break even. “But it’s worth the money not to be indebted to anybody.”

Iafrate said in 2018 one developer came to her, mistakenly asking for her to repay a debt. He thought he had donated to her election campaigns over the years, and asked her how she would be voting on a matter at council that would impact a housing project involving his company.

“He called me, and he was trying to get me to change my mind. He said to me, ‘I helped you, now you help me,’” she said. “I was shocked, and I kindly reminded him to check his records and I had never taken his money.

“Don’t tell me they don’t expect something in return. Of course, they do.”