Orcas Island elects new 'honorary' mayor

John Langeler reports

ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. -- The village of Eastsound's current mayor is blind, adorable and covered in fur. His name is Jack, and he's a Golden Retriever.

Orcas Island is unincorporated, and therefore has no actual, human mayor or city hall. For the last seven years, that post has been held by animals - one cow and six dogs.

The election is staged by Children's House, a non-profit preschool that has existed on Orcas Island for more than 40 years. Each vote is a donation to the organization, $1 minimum for an in person contribution, $5 online.

Jack's reign as mayor ends Saturday. A slate of five candidates are vying for the position now, in what has turned out to be an election laced with lighthearted controversy and one big contender.

Granny, the 103-year-old Orca leader of J-Pod has the inside track to become Eastsound's new mayor. Attempts to reach Granny for comment were unsuccessful. Her campaign manager, Alex Callen, filled in the blanks.

"She has the most experience," he said, "And by far the biggest brain of the lot."

Behind Granny are three dogs and a parrot. Lewis, a shaggy Sheepdog, is in second place heading into the final day of the election.

"I've been wanting Lewis to run. I've been encouraging him for years," said Lewis's campaign manager Janice Williams, "You take one look at Lewis and you know he's lovable. The thing about Granny is, she hasn't made one campaign appearance."

As frontrunner, Granny is target for political attacks from her rivals.

"They think it's pretty cool that an Orca's going to represent Orcas Island," said Courtney Ray tongue-in-cheek. She is campaign manager for Bentley, a Cocker Spaniel currently in last place.

"I just feel like the whale has an unfair advantage," she continued.

"They're all really cute and cuddly and friendly," countered Callen humorously, "Granny may not be cuddly, but she's a lot smarter."

Sullie, a Corgi, also drew attention with her campaign, which recently offered free slush puppies for votes.

"We bribe," admitted campaign manager Hailey Crowe, "We had to get some true campaigning in there."

"This is the first time we've had a whale," said Children's House Executive Director Susan Anderson, "That makes this more interesting. But, we've had cows and goats too."

So far, Caique Parrot Oliver is in fourth place in the election. Campaign manager Jodi Fox is confident her 20-year-old bird can make a miraculous comeback.

"He can't talk," said Fox, "It could be an advantage for a politician, right?

"I think the only thing that would stop him is if he found a mate," she continued.

Voting ends Saturday, July 4 at 2 p.m. after a parade through Eastsound that features the candidates.


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