The process of being elected to public office in the great state of California is a complicated one.
Usually, the hopeful candidate must meet a state-specific list of requirements and deadlines, known as ballot access laws. These include being nominated by a recognised political party, or running as an independent candidate as long as you petition to get your name on the general election ballot.
On the other hand, you could just get your family to pay $20,000 for you to be mayor. And be a dog.
Which is exactly what happened in the town of Idyllwild in southern California, a town whose mayor is a golden retriever named Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II.
Mayor Max II has been mayor since 2014, but is actually the second dog to hold the highly-coveted position, which was previously held by his predecessor, Mayor Max I, from 2012.
The highly sensible decision to let a dog be mayor – I can’t imagine many people objected, other than a few cats perhaps – came about when nonprofit organisation Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends ran a sponsored election for the non-incorporated town.
Check out Mayor Max in action here:
Any resident could nominate and campaign for their pets and constituents paid $1 donations for their the vote.
Major Max’s chief of staff, and owner, Phyllis Mueller, went above and beyond though. Max was up against 13 other dogs and two cats, but Phyllis and her husband campaigned hard throughout the town to get Max the mayorship. They also wrote a $20,000 cheque, which probably helped a fair bit too.
As Phyllis told ABC News:
I thought it would be fun to have my dog be the mayor. You were asked to pay a dollar a vote and you were encouraged to buy the election.
But Max I was rather an old dog when he took office, and sadly passed away two years later. Phyllis, however, knew she’d found a worthy predecessor when she met Max II, as he apparently looked right at the camera and posed when they met.
At just 11 weeks old, Max II was fairly young to be a politician, but as he did such good job of being a great dog he was soon elected mayor for life.
Phyllis added: ‘When people ask what party they would belong to, I always say they would be independent.’
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My brother, Deputy Mayor Mikey, and I, Deputy Mayor Mitzi, are pretty frisky, and we like to jump up on people's shoulders, and we love to chase SQUIRRELS! that we see, and if you happen to have an ice cream cone, we're going to try to get it. We think this is perfectly reasonable behavior, and we hope you do too. We are just enthusiastic because we love you so much, and we're always thinking about you, and we so love to hear from you. Phyllis tells us all about you. We know we're so lucky to have you in our lives and to be our friend. We are your friends for life. Please send us a comment because we love to hear from you! Thank you very much. Love always, Deputy Mayor Mitzi, The Frisky P.S. Let me know if you like my poem. Thank you. A wonderful Spring is in the air The weather has been rainy and that is rare The humidity puts lots of curls in my hair Come close with an ice cream cone if you dare We love to chase SQUIRRELS! and fast-running hare But we hope to never be chased by a bear We are happy our lives with you we share We love you so much and you know that we care We dress up daily with outfits to wear The Golden Retriever rule for sharing we think is fair That's 90/10 in case you weren't aware All three of we dogs are known as the Mayors When we Mayors sleep together, it's in a lair Mikey and I are twins and quite a pair We are known for shredding because we like to tear We're thinking of wearing sunglasses when the sun has a glare I could go on and on with this you know I love you so much that my heart is aglow I'll run over hill and dale on my feet and toes To love you forever my friend is the only road
The canine mayor and his deputies (two other golden retrievers) do their duty by appearing at various events and festivals in the town. They also visit local hospitals and schools, as well as making house calls to those in need. The dogs even have their own fleet of ‘mayor mobiles’, with custom license plates and logos.
While I wouldn’t normally endorse blatant bribery to get into office, I think it’s fair to say Max is a politician we can all support.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.