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RICHMOND HILL VOTES: ‘Absurdly partisan’: Mysterious campaign-style flyers with unauthorized city logo circulate
Oct. 18, 2022

Another day in Richmond Hill, another mysterious flyer making the rounds.

Less than two months after residents flagged an anonymous mail-out aimed at Ward 5 Coun. Karen Cilevitz, another unsourced flyer is circulating around the city. And this time, it is targeting Mayor David West.

Bearing the logo of the City of Richmond Hill at the bottom corner, the double-sided glossy paper flyer proclaimed to be a “Election Report Card for Mayor” from “Richmond Hill Taxpayers Association.”

It gave mayoral candidate Carmine Perrelli a “A+” for his campaign and an “F” for incumbent Mayor West, who’s seeking re-election. However, it remains unclear who was responsible for the information and how the grading was accomplished.

While much about the flyers remains a mystery, the City of Richmond Hill has made it clear that the flyer is not associated with the city and it was not allowed to use the Richmond Hill logo.

“The Richmond Hill logo is trademarked,” city clerk Stephen Huycke wrote. “Candidates, candidate representatives, and third party advertisers are not allowed to use the city logo or other Richmond Hill branding on any election materials.”

He added that the Richmond Hill Taxpayers Association was not a registered third-party advertiser for the 2022 municipal election in Richmond Hill as of Oct. 11.

“It’s absurdly partisan and wildly inaccurate,” West said. “I think it’s unfortunate that this kind of misinformation can be widely circulated with no consequences.”

On one side, the colourful flyer lauded Perrelli -- an incumbent regional councillor -- for running a “dynamic campaign” and “fighting for residents” and criticized West for “not demonstrating leadership” and having “no vision.”

On the other side, it made a list of “key issues,” from property tax freezes to protecting green space, and how the two candidates have voted on them.

West and Perrelli are two of the four mayoral candidates who are racing for the finish line in the upcoming election on Oct. 24. The flyer made no mentioning of candidates Holo Devnani and Domenic Bardari.

Perrelli, who received the flyer on Oct. 11, said he did not know the source of the flyers.

"I do support (the) residents' right to get involved in healthy debate and to make their views known," he said.

If the City of Richmond Hill becomes aware of who's responsible for the flyer, it will take appropriate actions, the city clerk said.

Mayoral candidate Devnani said he has not seen the flyer himself, but was informed by the city about the complaints regarding the flyer.

“In my opinion, third-party contributions, or flyers or ads, should not be allowed. This will prevent a rich third party (say, a developer, special interest group, etc.) from influencing voters,” Devnani said.

It’s not the first time that an unsourced flyer has been distributed in the Richmond Hill community close to a municipal election.

Two municipal elections ago, in 2014, the “Richmond Hill Taxpayers Coalition” sent out a townwide mailing to publicize an “election report card.” It also gave top marks to Perrelli, who was seeking the mayoral spot and lost in the 2014 election.

Similarly, there was no indication who was behind the “taxpayers coalition,” nor contact information.

“I have confidence in our residents, and I fully expect they have done their homework and see this for what it is,” West said.