Dog mayor retires after four-year service
Pup does politics.
While writing our previous article on dogs with jobs, we learned about one particularly privileged pooch. Meet Duke, a thirteen-year-old Great Pyrenees. Duke served as the mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota for four whole years. He's overwhelmingly popular for his great service to the community and has won in a landslide victory at each year's election. There's even a biography on his career coming out this year. Sadly, Duke's owner has now decided it's time for him to retire and return to a private life.
So, how did this town end up electing a dog in the first place? What has he accomplished as mayor? And when he steps down, who can possibly succeed him? We'll be looking at the highlights of Duke's working life in this article.
Democracy at its finest.
Democracy is absolute, and the public should get what they vote for. Even if they vote for their fluffy four-legged friend to preside over them. In 2014, this happened when the small town of Cormorant, Minnesota held its first-ever mayoral election. The election doubled up as a fundraiser for their annual fair, so each vote was a write-in and cost $1 to cast. At that time, resident David Rick made a lucky "accident," as he claimed, by casting a vote for his dog Duke. The dog ended up receiving nine out of twelve votes and winning.
Recognising the publicity benefits of having a dog as mayor in their otherwise unknown town, the people of Cormorant decided to go through with it. Duke took office in front of a large crowd soon after. The whole event was rather surreal, with Duke even having to place his paw on the Bible during the initiation ceremony. Luckily, however, he wasn't expected to repeat the oath.
Richard Sherbrook, another candidate who lost to Duke, was gracious in defeat. He even admitted he voted for Duke himself, as he thought it would be "pretty cool" if the first mayor was a dog. The new mayor was to be paid a salary of dog food for his one-year term, and celebrated his success with five hours of grooming. That was definitely a grooming session well-earned.
— Michelle Broder Van Dyke (@MBVD) August 13, 2014
Duke's duties have included leading parades, appearing on billboards, and boosting public morale. He certainly became the international sensation that the town had hoped for, with tourists travelling to the town just for the chance to meet Duke. Karen Nelson, a resident who proclaims herself to be Duke's "adoptive mother," says visitors regularly ask her where the mayor is. They often come with treats to give him and want to take photographs. Duke even has his own Facebook page, which has over four thousand likes.
Cormorant's mayor is known for the miniature top hat and patriotic bandanas that he wears during work. When he's not on the job, Duke helps out on the farm and is a regular at the local pub. Tricia Maloney, who voted for Duke said that "he doesn't know how to handle [the] publicity... he's used to coming to the pub and getting some burgers and some fries or something." Duke is often followed by local paparazzi as he goes about his life in the town. But at least he receives extra pampering at the groomer's to prepare for special occasions. And, of course, he has the unconditional love of the townsfolk.
Duke the dog won an election to be the mayor of a town in Minnesota.Residents believe he’ll really protect the town. pic.twitter.com/SuxaGVPGbq
— Stray Cat (@rainyhorizon) September 7, 2014
But Duke's popularity didn't just end after that year. He was re-elected for a second term, and then again for his third term. At this point, mainstream media caught onto the story. Reporters gathered to document the dog's re-election. Karen Nelson told them, "I don't know who would run against him, because he's done such great things for the community." Duke won again by a landslide, with every vote cast for him except one. And that vote went to his girlfriend, Lassie. Because who needs human mayors anymore?
Duke then went on to be elected for his fourth year in a row. But the mayor, now a thirteen-year-old dog, has grown tired. His four-year service works out to a grand thirty-three in dog years, so we don't blame him. Rick has decided it's finally time for his dog to step down and support the community from the sidelines. In the meantime, a biography of Duke's life is being worked on. Jolene Beckman, a local elementary school teacher, is producing it in the form of a children's book. She says it will teach readers what they can learn from Duke - to "be chill, join in, and be kind."
After four years as the top elected official of Cormorant, Minnesota, Mayor Duke, a 13-year-old Great Pyrenees dog, has decided it’s time to retire. He’ll surely be missed in office! pic.twitter.com/8aqdWAk0Vg
— Everything Minnesota (@EverythinginMN) June 20, 2018
A farewell parade will be held in August for Duke, and a large turnout is expected. We can't help but wonder who can possibly succeed him. What might the future hold for this political pooch? Personally, we'd like to imagine he's stepping down to run for president in 2020.