WATCH: Sidney’s mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith has only been in his seat for a few months and already, he faces losing his job. The businessman turned politician broke spending rules during his campaign. Now he’ll have to convince the courts to let him stay on. But some say he needs to resign. Luisa Alvarez has the details.
Sidney residents elected their new mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith in October but now, just three months later, there is a chance they could be sent back to the polls after it was made public McNeil-Smith overspent on the campaign.
“Expenses are made in several areas, people have responsibilities and a mistake was made,” said McNeil-Smith.
Former Sidney Mayor Steve Price, who was beaten by McNeil-Smith in the election, is calling for McNeil-Smith’s resignation.
“He needs to do the right thing and there needs to be a fair and honest election for the mayor’s office in the town of Sidney,” said Price.
The public’s reaction in Sidney was mixed Thursday.
“I think it’s important to make sure that its a level playing field for everybody,” said Dan Bouchard.
“We got enough problems without having to worry about another election,” said Barry Manning.
The spending limit for Sidney was $11,349 per candidate. McNeil-Smith disclosed to Elections BC that his mayoral campaign spent $13,226, a difference of a little over $1,800.
There is a monetary penalty for breaking that rule, McNeil-Smith may have to pay a fine equal to twice what he overspent. But, he may also have to pay with his job.
The Elections BC guideline handbook reads “an elected candidate that exceeds their expense limit loses their seat.”
In order to keep it, McNeil-Smith now has to petition the B.C. Supreme Court.
“I don’t think it’s in the public interest to have another election for an election result that was as significant as it was,” said McNeil-Smith.
While he did win by nearly 80 per cent, 3,740 votes to 929 votes for Price there are two key things a judge has to consider.
One, his overspending did not materially affect election results and two – that his campaign showed due diligence to prevent overspending.
“We are confident that we have a strong case,” said McNeil-Smith.
But Price just isn’t buying it and doesn’t think a judge should either.
“Mr. McNeil-Smith has a masters in business administration, he also had a certified general accountant as his financial agent so there couldn’t have been any clerical errors if you have that much knowledge and skill sets behind running the campaign,” said Price.
For now, McNeil-Smith is allowed under Elections BC legislation to keep his job until a B.C. Supreme Court judge gives a verdict.