OMENA — Tucker Joyce completes three years as Omena mayor with no scandals or corruption, and leaves office with high approval ratings.
His political winning formula in the dog-eat-dog world of politics: a wag for everyone.
The 10-year-old golden retriever earned top dog status thanks to a creative fundraiser by the Omena Historical Society. The organization's Chicago-style electoral rules — no residency requirements and vote early, vote often — netted the group $5,000.
Tucker, who exemplified grace in office whether in a parade or greeting constituents, earned more than 20 percent of ballots in the 2009 race. He beat out 21 other dogs as well as a cat, horse, snail and worm in the election to be top dog in this Leelanau County community.
The handsome and dignified Tucker cheerfully attended to all his duties during his term, which spanned 21 dog years.
"We're very thankful for the time he's had as mayor and we wish his successor well," said owner Diane Joyce on behalf of Tucker. "He's loyal, honest and a good listener; he listens to his constituents."
"He's a great dog, I am so proud of him," added Bob Joyce, Tucker's other human handler.
Tucker will step aside on Saturday for the next administration.
"The whole thing has been really cool, the people he's met," said Diane Joyce. "He's been accepted by all the community. We'd like to thank the community for their support."
Voting for the 2012 candidates — another cross-species mélange of dogs, cats and horses — is open to the public all week. At a $1 a vote, the race featuring 15 contestants should be heated — and lucrative for the society.
"One of our members read about this election in another town and thought that this sounded fun," said Doni Lystra, vice president of the Omena Historical Society.
The election coincides with a day of festivities in honor of Omena's 160th anniversary. In addition to the Omena mayor inauguration and parade, the Omena Village Day Celebration will feature food, activities, ice cream and a yard sale.
"There will be all kinds of events," said Lystra. "It's the first time we've had an Omena Village Day Celebration."
The 2009 mayoral candidates submitted a statement and photo, but this year's nomination process included an entry form with critical questions such as: favorite food, best trick, pet peeve and naughtiest deed. As they did last time, families of the candidates create all campaign activities, from posters, signs and appearances to slogans and brochures.
The weeklong election process is crucial to screening candidates, as Jim Miller discovered with his dog, Riley, in 2009. As votes piled up, Miller's wire-haired fox terrier, then a year old, exhibited a fatal electoral flaw.
"We found out he doesn't handle applause well so his political career was over," Miller said. "He barks like crazy, starts spinning around and barking."