The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 5, 2013

Why are all the good politicians furry?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013 — I must admit it. I love all things politics, almost as much as I love sports and movies.

My wife will tell you that I watch a lot of Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. I enjoy going to sites on the web and reading about what’s going on and the opinions on both sides of the aisle. I’ll listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in the car all the time.

Ed Schultz? Well, my ears can only take so much before they start bleeding.

If I had twice the brains and half the money some of these politicians have, I could see myself sitting in office sometime in the near future. But since I don’t, and because I’d rather not have some of the things in my checkered past brought up again (like that time I ripped the tag off the mattress or when I voted for Bob Dole in 1996), I choose to watch from the sidelines.

We’ll be having another election day on Tuesday. As a young Reagan Democrat growing up in eastern North Carolina, I would always stay up late to see the results of all the political races. Local, state, national, those numbers fascinated me as much if not more than baseball batting averages or the number of arrests in the NFL per team.

So I’ve followed with great interest and read the stories on each of the candidates running for mayor, school board, town, city and county seats around here. I can truly say I’m ready to cast my ballot come Tuesday.

But there’s one “politician” that’s particularly grabbed my interest. I can say I’ve read with great fascination more about this particular politician than I have any other, at least since the last national election.

His name is Stubbs and he’s the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska. You see … Stubbs is a cat. A cat mayor. And a pretty good one, too. He’s been the honorary mayor for 16 years, since he was a kitten.

Apparently, there’s no age limitations for being voted in as a mayor. Or, for that matter, what kind of mammal you are. Not that a reptile couldn’t be elected mayor. But that’s another story for another time.

Talkeetna is a town of 876 people, reports The Wall Street Journal. That’s more people than live in Misenheimer, New London, Red Cross or Richfield. Why don’t these towns have a feline mayor? I’ll bet some would like to vote for a cat for mayor over the choices they have Tuesday.

Talkeetna apparently isn’t a big enough town in Alaska to have an official mayor. So the citizens thought it a good idea to give the title to this cat. He won a write-in campaign at just 3 months old and has served ever since.

This is the same Talkeetna that was apparently the inspiration for the 1990s television show “Northern Exposure.” It’s also the same place people recognize for its Moose Dropping Festival, Wilderness Woman Contest and Bachelor Auction and Ball.

I thought those only happened on movies like “Groundhog Day.”

Turns out Mayor Stubbs isn’t even the first animal to serve office. The Wall Street Journal reports other towns in the U.S. have had … well, let’s just call them unique mayors. And some of those politicians have been just as shady as the ones we like to call legit.

Lajitas, Texas had a beer-drinking goat named Clay Henry serve until he died in 1992. No doubt due to an alcoholic overdose. That was followed by Clay Henry II and Clay Henry III.

Rabbit Hash, Ky., had a Border Collie (gasp! not a rabbit) named Lucy Lou as mayor. The dog beat out a cat, a possum, a jackass (a real jackass, not another slick politician) and even a human for the honor. Mayor Lou has held the position since 1998 in the community of around 100 people.

Another place with four-legged mayors, according to The WSJ, is Eastsound, Wash. This town is very set in its ways in who it’s chosen as mayor. So far, a dog has won every election except 2011, when a dairy cow named April beat out four dogs, a rabbit (probably a transplant from Rabbit Hash, Ky.) and a cat.

But none of these furry mayors has gotten the attention Mayor Stubbs has gotten. And for good reason.

Mayor Stubbs has had some bad luck recently. You could say, as Uncle Eddie did in the film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” if Mayor Stubbs has nine lives, he’s about used them all up.

During his time as mayor, Stubbs has been shot (some teenagers with a BB gun who no doubt tried to assassinate him), jumped off a moving truck and fallen into a restaurant fryer. In August, he was mauled by a dog that forced him into a veterinary hospital for nine days with a punctured lung, a fractured sternum and 12 stitches.

Talk about politics being a dog-eat-dog profession. No word on whether Gus the Field Goal Kicking Mule, who recently retired to the area after a pro football career, served as interim mayor during Stubbs’ recovery.

But through it all, Stubbs has remained incredibly popular. Morris, the cat who does the 9 Lives cat food commercials, really did pay for Stubbs’ medical bills. There was a Facebook page where people could write encouraging words as Stubbs recovered.

He has his own Facebook page encouraging him to run for president in 2016 and a Twitter account, @MayorStubbs. On Twitter, he blamed the federal shutdown on the Blue Dogs, gave his 1,324 followers an update on his health (“4 lives aren’t as good as 9”) and says he still prefers Fancy Feast over fresh Alaskan salmon.

I recently read a scathing commentary of sorts by Craig Medred of the Alaska Dispatch mocking people, news organizations and other outlets that have given Stubbs so much attention, especially after his latest injury. Medred bemoans The Washington Post for calling Stubbs the honorary mayor of Talkeetna. He rips CNN for suggesting the cat is more popular than any human candidate and basically calls the whole thing “fake, fake, fake, fake. Made up. Concocted. A fable.”

So I decided the other day to go to Alaska to see how Mayor Stubbs was doing. Though he was quite sore and still recovering, Stubbs granted an exclusive interview with The Stanly News & Press, which I’ll now share with you all.

SNAP: Hello, Mayor Stubbs, how are you?

Stubbs: Meow.

SNAP: Sorry, I didn’t quite get that.

Stubbs: MEOW.

SNAP: Oh ... well, OK. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Stubbs: Meow.

SNAP: Well, for a politician with few words to say, what do you think about the recent problems with Obamacare?

Stubbs: HISS ... Mmmrrroowwlll!

SNAP: OK, so you’re not a fan. Do you have a better solution?

Unfortunately, at this point, Stubbs curled up in a ball and went to sleep.

It’s safe to say he’s still sleeping off his injuries. Good thing he’s got Aflac as his insurance provider.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 21 or