25 July 2017

True Political Animals

by Barb Goffman

So much about politics divides our nation these days, but here is something I think we all can agree on: the death last week of the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, is a loss to us all.

You see, Talkeetna (two hours north of Anchorage, population less than 900) has for twenty years had the same mayor: Stubbs the orange tabby. Stubbs supposedly began his political career as a write-in candidate who garnered more votes than any of the humans on the ballot. He thereafter won several uncontested elections over the years. He even survived what's been billed an assassination attempt by a stray dog in 2013. (There's a newspaper in Alaska that claims Stubbs never was elected and his political career is effectively an urban legend, but I like what everyone else is reporting about Stubbs, so screw 'em.)

Anyway, it might seem silly to be sad over a deceased feline I never met--and it might seem sillier that said feline ran a town in Alaska for twenty years--but this cat did something few political candidates seem able to do these days. He brought his town together. Once he was elected, no one ran against him. His constituents actually liked him, and not for what he could do for them. They liked him just for himself. Isn't that refreshing?
Rest in peace, Stubbs.

That's not to say Stubbs accomplished nothing while in office. I understand he helped increase tourism because people wanted to meet him. And I daresay he promoted the idea that you don't have to look--or be--like everyone else in order to succeed, in politics as well as in life. Granted, Stubbs's job was apparently more symbolic than functional, but that makes Stubbs's accomplishments no less valid. So I salute you, Stubbs, for all your success. Thank you for your years of service. And may you rest in peace.

There's more where Stubbs came from

Stubbs was not the first animal elected to office in this country. Here are a few others. (Note: This information was gathered from multiple sources on the Internet. I haven't gone to each town to confirm, but why would anyone make this stuff up?)

In 1981, Bosco, a lab-rottweiler mix, was elected mayor of Sunol, California. He served for thirteen years, dying in office in 1994. His job was described as purely ceremonial, but he still got to be called mayor.

This isn't any of the Henry Clays,
but you get the idea.

In 1986, a political dynasty began in Lajitas, Texas, when Henry Clay, a billy goat, was elected as mayor. Since then Henry Clay Jr. and Henry Clay III have served in the same position.

In 1998, voters in the small town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, elected Goofy, a German shepherd, mayor. Goofy was eventually succeeded by Junior, a black lab, who was succeeded by Lucy Lou, a border collie, who remains in office today. Goofy's election stemmed from a fundraiser for a local church. People paid $1 to cast each vote.

In 2011, a cow named April was elected mayor of Eastsound, Washington. After not running for re-election, April was succeeded the next year by Murphy, a Portuguese water dog (like Stubbs, Murphy was a write-in candidate). Other animal mayors of this town have been Granny, a whale; Jack, a golden retriever; and their current mayor, Lewis, a dog (breed unclear). As with other towns with animal mayors, the job in Eastsound is ceremonial, and the voting each year is designed to raise money for charity, but the effect of teaching respect for animals is certainly real.

This isn't Duke, but it looks like him.
And last, but certainly not least, there is Duke, a great Pyrenees, who was elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in 2014. He has won re-election annually since then, and he continues to serve today.

So, readers, would any of your furry friends make good politicians? Please share. I'm particularly interested in what qualities they have that we all could benefit from. (And no comments, please, about how any animal is better than the politicians we have today. All of these animals have been elected in good-natured environments, and I'd like this blog to remain just as positive.)

And so we don't stray too far from the topic of writing, if you know of any crime short stories or novels involving the election of an animal or an animal serving in office, please share those too.

12 comments:

Donna Andrews said...

Damn. I wish I'd thought of that. I'm sure Spike could give Randall Shiffley some competition.

Paul D. Marks said...

I think our dog Pepper would make a great politician. When we got her as a puppy we already had two black cats and another dog, Audie. Audie and her got along from the start. And the cats were curious about her, but afraid of her. But Pepper would not let them not be her friends. She bugged them in various ways until they all were very tight. And the boy cat, Curley, and Pepper became best friends.

Pepper (full name on her papers: Sgt. Pepper): bringing people/animals together! Vote now. :-)

Leigh Lundin said...

Senator Incitatus set sort of a precedent when Caligula promoted his horse into the noble ranks. It that case, horse sense worked better than political wisdom.

I was thinking about nominating Valentine, a goffin cockatoo. White males aren’t popular these days, and he’s easily distracted by skirts and feminine wiles, but he kisses babies. He’s gentle and definitely more dovish.

Albert was low down, scaly, yellow-belly, cold-blooded with a predatory gleam… No, wait, he wasn’t a congressman or even a lawyer. Albert was an alligator, remember? But he wasn’t susceptible to bribery, so he might have made a good mayor.

Clever article, Barb. Well done.

Robert Lopresti said...

Well, that was interesting. My cats would be terrible politicians, I am afraid. Animals do seem to be finding new career paths, though. On Sunday we went to see the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of HMS Pinafore. It featured a small dog named Bianca, who seemed fascinated with the whole procedure. Here is her picture. https://i0.wp.com/thesunbreak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Sir-J-and-Blanca-Wide-Format.jpg?resize=296%2C189

Eve Fisher said...

I understand that the most popular animal in Japan is Tama, Stationmaster at Kishi Station - (Check out Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tama_(cat) By all accounts, Tama has been a superlative stationmaster, and since her investiture, has increased tourism by 10% a year!


Fran Rizer said...

A fun read, Barb. I can't nominate any animals for political office, but I will say that there are already a lot of jack asses in politics.

Melodie Campbell said...

Frankenpoodle, our St. John Ambulance therapy dog, should definitely be a candidate for any office. His mission is to bring joy to nursing home folk and disabled children. Imagine, a politician with that mandate!
Of course, he is Canadian - perhaps our own version of The Peacemaker?
Lovely post, Barb!

Jack Getze said...

Fun.

B.K. Stevens said...

I think our cat, Ari, would make an effective politician (not necessarily a public-spirited one, but one can't ask for everything). He's very persuasive, very determined. If he wants something, he doesn't stop until he gets it. If he wants breakfast, for example, he doesn't give up when we try hiding under the covers and telling him to go away. He perseveres in his campaign, howling and knocking alarm clocks, radios, and other objects off bureaus until one of us (usually, my husband) gives in, gets up, and feeds him. But Ari doesn't harbor a grudge. Once he's finished breakfast, he's perfectly willing to make peace and curl up with us again. In both of those respects, he's superior to a lot of politicians I could mention.

Tonette Joyce said...

I had a few pets that would have made benevolent leaders, but on of my cats was the smartest animal I have ever known, and I will include most homo sapiens by far.
One absolutely has to wonder who is doing all the paperwork and decisions that the animals in office can not articulate, (if indeed,t hey understand at all).
I fear there is probably funny business going on.
However, this is ALL funny business!

Jeff Baker said...

I was thinking of Caligula's horse when I read this, Leigh! Barb, Robert Graves' books "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God" probably have enough crime and intrigue (as well as the horse senator) to be related to this blog's usual topics! The books (and the '70's mini-series made from them) directly inspired creation of "The Sopranos."

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and sharing your animal thoughts, stories, and photos. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.

Donna, it is never too late for Spike to throw his collar in the ring. Perhaps he could decide to be a write-in candidate at the urging of a twin or two.

Paul, I love Pepper's message of inclusiveness. She's got my vote! And I bet she would have good international relations with Mel's Frankenpoodle.

Eve, OMG, I love the photo of Tama wearing her stationmaster hat. So cute!

Bonnie, I think Ari would make a good legislative whip, rounding up the votes.