While Iowa is gearing up for the Democratic caucuses next week and New Hampshire for the primaries a week later, one small town in Vermont is preparing to vote on a new mayor. The candidates? Lincoln the goat and Sammy the dog.
Residents in Fair Haven, Vermont, will take to the polls on Mar 3. to cast their votes for the position of “Pet Mayor” and they will choose between the incumbent, Lincoln the goat, a 4-year-old Nubian goat who won the mayor’s seat by only 3 votes last year, and the challenger, Sammy, a K9 officer with the Fair Haven Police Department, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI.
“Sammy was actually a rescue dog,” said her handler Sgt. Dale Kerber of the Fair Haven Police Department in an interview, and is trained in tracking and drugs but also manages to find time to visit local schools when she isn’t working.
"All the kids, they are very familiar with her, and they are always wanting her to come in and pay a visit," Sgt. Kerber said.
The Fair Haven Police Department formally announced Sammy’s election bid in a press release on Jan. 14.
“The news was not a surprise as rumors surfaced last week that she was planning on making the run. Sammy has decided to challenge incumbent Mayor Lincoln the Goat,” the statement read.
"I actually found out about it from one of the kids at the grade school, I hadn't been told about it, that my canine partner, her hat had been thrown in the ring," Sgt. Kerber said.
While the election may be a bit of levity during an election year, the purpose behind it is to help fundraise to build a new playground. People will pay $1 to vote in the election on Mar. 3 and all proceeds from the race will be donated toward the construction of the playground. According to the Associated Press, Fair Haven has raised about $10,000 of donations so far of the $80,000 needed for the playground.
"We thought to go with the national trend and have our dog challenge the mayor, or whoever the candidate is, in campaign fundraising and all that money would be donated to the playground fund," said Chief Bill Humphries. "Lincoln has done a great job. Lincoln has represented the community well and we thought it would be a great idea to say, ‘come on, run for one more year,’ and see if we can challenge him.
It is expected to be a close race between Sammy the canine and Lincoln the hircine but whoever wins the position of mayor will have to fulfill responsibilities over the next year like marching in parades and making other public appearances.
Money aside, Sgt. Kerber thinks it is a great way to teach kids about how democracy works and how to participate in politics.
"I think it is great for the kids to get involved in the politics of it, the democracy,” said Sgt. Kerber. They have a chance to vote who they think should be the next pet mayor."