Has the presidential race soured you on politics as usual? Next time you’re in the voting booth, consider casting your ballot for a nontraditional candidate. These towns did exactly that and are enjoying the benefits of a super hands-off – or more precisely, paws-off – government.
1. Stubbs — Talkeetna, Alaska
This week, one elected official is celebrating his fifteenth year as mayor of the 900-person hamlet. It’s a long reign for any politician... especially one with a tail. The story has taken the Internet by storm: when a handful of residents didn’t like any of the human candidates, they encouraged voters to write in Stubbs the cat instead. As luck would have it, the feline won. Locals rationalized that having a cat as mayor would be a boon to tourism, and so they allowed the cat to assume his rightfully won position. Nowadays, the tabby spends most of his time palling around with constituents at a local general store, sleeping, and sniffing catnip from a wine glass. Who says you can’t have it all?
2. Bosco — Sunol, California
Bosco, a Labrador-Rottweiler mix, served 13 years as the mayor of Sunol. While his title as mayor of the small, unincorporated town was purely ceremonial, one Chinese newspaper took the canine compatriot a little too seriously.
In 1989, communist publication The People’s Daily pointed to Bosco as proof that democratic elections don’t work. Rather than dismiss the comment, revolutionaries embraced the pup’s newfound symbolism. In the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests, Bosco was invited to participate in a pro-democracy rally outside of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where participants dubbed him the face of democracy and freedom.
3. Henry Clay III — Lajitas, Texas
4. Lucy Lou — Rabbit Hash, KY
In 1998, Goofy the German Shepherd was elected mayor of a quiet Kentucky hamlet. Actually, he bought the election. In what began as a fundraiser for a local church, townspeople thought it would be fun to hold a mock mayoral election (ostensibly modeled after the real mayoral elections held in Chicago). Townspeople paid a dollar per ballot and voted as many times as they pleased. Goofy defeated his bipedal opponent in a landslide, receiving an astonishing 8,000 votes. Since that fateful day, the town has elected two more canine mayors. Goofy was replaced by Junior, a black lab who embarked on a goodwill tour across the state to build improved relations with the quadruped community. Junior was succeeded by border collie Lucy Lou, the town’s current mayor. Her signature issue? Campaigning for canines’ rights to hang out in the town’s General Store.
And two who were unelectable...
Saucisse — Marseille, France
In a classic underdog success story, Saucisse the dachshund went from abandoned puppy to prominent political figure in the country that invented miming and fried snails. The pup was on the ballot for the 2001 mayoral elections in Marseille – France’s second largest city. While his owner, Serge Scotto, put down his canine companion’s name as a joke, Saucisse – whose name means sausage – captured four percent of the vote. Despite losing the election, the pup became a media darling and went on to be featured in several novels and even appeared as a contestant on a French reality show.
Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane — Fairhope, Alabama
The café became the pup’s official headquarters, marketing pooch paraphernalia such as yard signs and t-shirts. Unfortunately, Willie Bean burst onto the scene too late to actually appear on the ballot. Nonetheless, townspeople showered the pup with support, proclaiming that he cleaned up politics. And as supporters pointed out, Willie Bean certainly doesn’t have any skeletons in his closet. He buried them all in the yard.