Calling all pawlitical animals: It’s time to elect Gulfport’s next pet mayor.
Now through Jan. 5, anyone can nominate their pet. Pets must live in Gulfport.
Although nomination is free, votes cost $1 each, benefiting the Gulfport Historical Society – the pet supervisor of elections, so to speak – and SPCA Tampa Bay. The pet who gets the most votes becomes the next pet mayor. GHS will announce the winner at a wagging-in ceremony during Get Rescued on February 26, 2022. The term lasts one year.
Competition will be fierce, but pets won’t be facing an incumbent. Coco the dog, Gulfport’s first pet mayor, who has held this pawsition for the last year while also performing her duties as official doggie innkeeper of the Peninsula Inn, is not running again.
“We believe in term limits,” said her owner’s brother, Thomas O’Connor, when reached by phone at the Peninsula. O’Connor added that Coco may or may not give her endorsement to a new candidate, we’ll just have to “wait and see.”
T he Gulfport pet mayor is a largely ceremonial position — though the winner may be asked to preside at a parade or two, and give handshakes (and/or head butts) where appropriate.
“I guess you could say the duties are what pets really do best, making our lives more companionable,” says Gulfport Historical Society secretary Amanda Hagood, who also teaches classes on animal studies at Eckerd College.
Which is not to say the candidates – or, at least, their owners — are not taking the race at least somewhat seriously. Hagood says two people have already shown her campaign posters to get her opinion on whether they convey the right message.
“Is this effective? Does it show Charlie as a leader?” she says, adding: “Charlie is a Siamese cat.”
Hagood urges all species to throw their hats in the ring — not just the politi-cats and dog-ocrats, but “we really would love to see some with feathers in the race, someone with scales. It would be fun to increase biodiversity.”
Find out more on the Gulfport Historical Society website. May the best pet win! (Spoiler alert: They’re all the best pet.)