White Rock candidates stumped on who’s paying for ratings poll

Speculation is on Coalition, but Sinclair says she has no idea and other incumbents remain mum

White Rock residents have been receiving phone surveys this past month asking for ratings on existing councillors for the upcoming civic election, but so far no politicians are acknowledging being behind the polls.

Independent council incumbents Helen Fathers and David Chesney – and Democracy Direct mayoral candidate Darryl Walker – each speculated that the White Rock Coalition might be footing the bill, however the coalition has yet to take credit for it.

Fathers contacted Peace Arch News via Twitter last week, and asked if anyone knew who sponsored the phone-survey.

Fathers said she spoke to as many as five people who have been interviewed over the phone. She said respondents were asked to rate existing councillors from 0 to 10; asked if retiring Mayor Wayne Baldwin did a good job; asked for an opinion on Walker and Coalition mayoral candidate Grant Meyer; and asked which party they will support, Democracy Direct or the White Rock Coalition.

“That was the essence of it,” Fathers told PAN Friday.

Efforts by Peace Arch News since last week to get comment from Coalition incumbents Meyer, Megan Knight, Bill Lawrence and Lynne Sinclair produced only a response from Sinclair.

Sinclair said Friday that she has no idea who’s behind the survey, adding that she’s been sick and “out of action for a week and a half.”

“I really don’t have any idea. Helen can guess all she wants. Maybe it’s her and Dave (Chesney). I don’t know – who knows?” Sinclair said.

“I’m sure there’s lots of interest in municipal elections right now.”

Fathers said it was reported to her that the survey was being conducted by Innovative Research Group and that the initiative was sponsored by the City of White Rock.

However, Fathers – “upset” that the survey might be a city initiative – confirmed with city manager Dan Bottrill that the city was not responsible.

She contacted Innovative Research Group to request more information, but the company did not reveal who paid for the survey, she said.

Contacted last week, a representative from Innovation Research Group told PAN that they “can’t even confirm that we necessarily are doing a survey – but I’m not telling you it didn’t happen.”

The representative agreed to forward a request for information – particularly, who paid for the survey and a list of questions asked – to the person, group or company who contracted the work.

Fathers said questions that were asked leads her to believe it was paid for by the White Rock Coalition.

“I want to see the results,” Fathers said. “My theory is that, depending on the outcome of (the survey), I still believe that they may put a different mayoral candidate forward, and I also think they might change their election strategy depending on those results.”

Chesney told PAN that he doesn’t know who’s behind the survey.

“Phone surveys are a very expensive operation, so Helen and I were musing whether or not it was the Coalition. Apparently, some of the questions were very forthright about Mayor Wayne Baldwin and members of council,” Chesney said.

Democracy Direct – a new party that just announced its slate of five candidates for seven council positions this week – has also been stumped by who paid for the survey, Walker told PAN.

“I know that a couple of our members said they’ve been called and were asked a number of questions, including how people feel about the present council, and even individual councillors,” Walker said. “It’s interesting. It’s a survey – why are they not identifying who they are representing?

“It seems to me, you do these types of things, you identify who you are representing, who’s paying the freight on them. I understand that it doesn’t appear to be that way.”

Walker recommended that PAN contact city hall or the White Rock Coalition to find out more information.

“It’d be nice to know – that would be great. I think the people deserve to know what’s going on out there. Who’s making these calls on whose behest?”

Cities across B.C. go to the polls Oct. 20.

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