Mayor of Alaska village walks on four paws
By Holly Yan, CNN
(CNN) – Not many mayors in the United States enjoy belly rubs from their constituents. Then again, most mayors don’t prance around town naked and curl up for naps in front of local businesses.
For 15 years, Stubbs the cat has held the top office in Talkeetna, Alaska. And his approval ratings have never been higher.
“He doesn’t raise our taxes — we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest,” said Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley’s General Store, which doubles as the mayor’s office.
Stubbs may be the only mayor in the country who rose to office as an infant.
“He was in a box full of kittens in the front of the store, and (the owners) were giving them away,” Stec said. She picked “Stubbs” because he had no tail.
Soon afterward, residents weren’t happy with any of the human candidates in the upcoming mayoral election and voted for Stubbs as a write-in candidate. The kitten won.
Because Talkeetna is a “historical district,” the mayoral post is more symbolic than functional, said Andi Manning, president of the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce. So most residents are fine with a four-legged feline running the show.
But the power, apparently, has gotten to Stubbs’ furry head.
“All throughout the day I have to take care of the mayor. He’s very demanding,” said Skye Farrar, a clerk at Nagley’s. “He meowed and meowed and meowed and demanded to be picked up and put on the counter. And he demanded to be taken away from the tourists. Then he had his long, afternoon nap.”
In addition, the mayor will only drink water from a wine glass that has catnip in it, Stec added.
But most everyone is willing to put up with the mayor’s high-maintenance lifestyle, especially because he’s a big tourist attraction for the community of about 800 human beings.
Manning said the mayor frequently draws dozens of tourists who are en route to other Alaska destinations such as Mount McKinley.
And as of late Monday night, the Mayor Stubbs Facebook page had well over 6,000 subscribers.
But Stubbs remains true to his community, often showing up in local businesses — albeit unexpectedly.
“When my building burned down in 2002, he was the last to come out of it,” said Todd Basilone, owner of Mountain High Pizza Pie in Talkeetna. “He’s always in the restaurant. Stubbs wanders into every place in town.”
Even though dogs run loose and outnumber people in Talkeetna, he said, the canines seem to respect Stubbs’ authority.
“I’ve never seen a dog mess with him,” Basilone said.
Though the mayor generally receives positive reviews for his laissez-faire politics, he is guilty of frequently sleeping on the job.
“His biggest political rivals would be other local businesses that would hate that he comes over and takes a nap and leaves fur everywhere. They aren’t big fans of him,” Farrar said. “We usually say, ‘You have to deal with it. He runs the town.’”
CNN’s Deanna Proeller contributed to this report.