Mayor frontrunner and former developer lobby head Sally Capp has claimed underdog status in the Melbourne byelection.
The New Daily reached out to six of the lead candidates before the polls close on Friday and a Robert Doyle replacement is declared more than a week later.
Ms Capp, who stood down as head of Victorian Property Council to run, was the only candidate who declined to provide any figures on campaign funding. Candidates are not required to disclose donations until 40 days after the election.
A spokesperson for Ms Capp confirmed all developer cash was rejected, saying she had run a “grassroots” campaign.
“The primary source of donations has been family, friends and close supporters from a wide cross-section of the Melbourne community,” the spokesperson told The New Daily.
“Ms Capp recognises that, without the might of a party machine behind her, or any backroom preference deals, she is at a distinct disadvantage in this campaign.”
Ms Capp’s biggest competitors directed preferences away from her on how to vote cards.
“But she is pleased that, as an independent, she has managed to build a professional and positive grassroots campaign from the ground up in a very short period of time,” the spokesperson said.
Ms Capp will disclose her donations at a later date, in line with the rules, they added.
Greens councillor Rohan Leppert, Ms Capp’s biggest rival, publicly disclosed his donations online throughout the campaign.
“Transparency is a key attribute of whoever’s going to hold the office of lord mayor, and that includes being very upfront with the voters about exactly who has funded the campaign,” Cr Leppert told The New Daily on Thursday.
His campaign received a total of $46,212 by Thursday. The biggest cash injection was $2400, from Greens and National Tertiary Education Union figures Linda Gale and Ken McAlpine.
About three-quarters of the donations were below the $500 disclosure threshold, and Cr Leppert told a candidates forum on Monday his average donation was about $100.
He donated $640 to his own mayoral bid, and confirmed he received no cash from property developers or the gambling industry.
A spokesperson for Jennifer Yang – the former mayor of Manningham and a Labor candidate in the 2014 state and 2016 federal elections – did not disclose the total amount of donations raised.
“The campaign’s largest donation was $30,000 from the candidate herself,” the spokesperson said, adding Ms Yang received no cash from developers or gambling figures.
Former councillor Ken Ong said he received one donation of $2000 from friends Dominic and Daria Lai. The rest of his campaign was bankrolled through personal funds, he said.
Mr Ong put almost $85,000 into his election bid at the 2016 poll, records show.
Sally Warhaft told The New Daily she received $1000 from each of her parents, and a $10,041 in-kind donation for a mobile billboard paid for by the Friends of the Queen Victoria Market.
Dr Warhaft also received about $500 in individual donations and $3000 in-kind design, for a total of $15,541.
Pollster Gary Morgan, who has also campaigned against the Queen Victoria Market redevelopment, said he did no fundraising for his mayoral bid.
“I have not received any donations – nor did I ask for any,” Mr Morgan said.
His research company Roy Morgan was his only donor at the last election.
The roll has increased by 12,109 since the 2016 poll to more than 144,000, the Victorian Electoral Commission said.
The majority of added enrolments were from property investors, which grew by 7091 votes – or 43.42 per cent of the roll, up to 44.64 per cent.
The number of residents increased 3220, according to the figures, seen by The New Daily.
Business owners get two votes, twice that of residents.
Votes need to be posted by 6pm on Friday. A lord mayor will not be declared until Monday, May 21, to allow for postage time. A provisional count will go online next Friday.
The 14 candidates in ballot draw order
- Qun Xie
- Sally Capp
- Luke Downing
- Rohan Leppert
- Sally Warhaft
- Alex MacDonald
- Allan Watson
- Jennifer Yang
- Katie Sfetkidis
- Gary Morgan
- Nathalie Nicole O’Sughrue
- Michael Burge
- Ken Ong
- Bruce Poon