If you lived in Sunol, California – a “census-designated place” – in 1981, you may have voted for Bosco Ramos for the office of Mayor. If you had, you’d be on the right side of history, as they say, because he won that year. California, always progressive, elected the mixed-race Bosco to office, where he served for 13 years until his death in 1994. Bosco Ramos was part black lab, part rottweiler.
Bosco met regularly with his constituents, taking daily strolls to meet with them, and every year led the Halloween parade through town. He often attended formal events dressed in a tuxedo. The people of Sunol so loved Bosco they erected a bronze bust of “the world’s first canine mayor” in his honor. But his time in office was often courted by controversy.
He drew the attention of Chinese newspapers, citing his election as proof of the failings of Democracy. He sired many illegitimate pups with a variety of females while in office, and in 1987 disappeared for a week before showing up again, carrying a stick, and giving no indication of where he had been.
How did Bosco Ramos get on the ballot in the first place? Well, his owner thought it would be a good laugh to write in his name with the campaign promises of “A bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner.” Bosco ran for mayor against two humans on the “Dogs Are People Too” platform, and won in a landslide. However, his position was called “purely ceremonial.”
Bosco Ramos is not the only household pet to hold public office. A small town of twelve residents in Minnesota elected a dog named Duke to the office of Mayor, also by a landslide. The human running against him, Richard Sherbrook, claims to have voted for Duke himself. Stubbs the cat became Mayor – like Duke, in an honorary capacity – of Talkeetna, Alaska from July 1997 until his death in 2017 at the age of 20. In the case of Stubbs, the election never actually took place but was instead a publicity stunt for the historic district of Talkeetna, good for attracting an addition 30 to 40 tourists per day who wanted to meet the famous feline Mayor.
Since animals in these public offices are titled purely ceremoniously, they aren’t expected to have their own offices, staffs, or salaries. No fleet of cars transports them to and from events, they have no personal secretaries, no armed bodyguards. But they have the limelight, the adulation, and invitations to appear on television – which, in Bosco Ramos’ case, earned him up to a cool $2,000 for one appearance. And maybe that’s all an animal seeking public office ever really wants.