by Layna Mosley and Andy Reynolds
This is our seventh year serving as expert election observers, and we cannot understate the importance of the 2018 mayoral campaign.
Some say it’s a heated four-way race that triggers voters’ anxieties about gender, Canadians, 1970s boxing films and sexual harassment; while others contend it’s a fun bit of ballot-rigging, in which a cilantro-loving bunny matches wits against a Beatles-inspired terrier, all whilst warding off challenges from both a miniature poodle and tiny horse.
Rocky and Sgt. Pepper hope the canine incumbency advantage will hold as Hudson’s term ends. Meanwhile, Tinker seeks votes that will reproduce like rabbits. And Ginger hopes that in this era of partisan polarization, her pan-animal ethos – “I live with four goats so I can deal with anyone” – will carry the day.
The contest remains wide open. July surprises are a persistent feature of Eastsound politics, and one never knows when a political action committee will stuff a ballot box with dollars (or rubles). For candidates considering a 2020 presidential run – hint, hint, actress and television personality who recently bought a certain Orcas property – there’s no better testing ground than Eastsound.
Ginger has momentum as we enter the final stretch. As the previous winner of elections for Doe Bay Dogcatcher as well as Olga Register of Breeds, Ginger is racing for the final jewel in her Triple Crown. The only female candidate in this field, she must thread the needle between gender stereotypes – a mare as mayor? – and concerns about the security of her emails.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the “Year of the Dog” aids Sgt. Pepper. Nearly 20 years ago Sgt. Pepper taught Orcatrazz to play, but that may not be enough with an electorate that leans more Sub Pop than Blue Note. And Pepper has made no secret of his French-Canadian ancestry. Rumor has it he’s related to Justin Trudeau and wants to expand the North American Free Tidepool Agreement (NAFTA). That said, Pepper knows how to court the island’s celebrity vote. He’s been overheard stating that his favorite color is purple.
Rocky has positioned himself as the candidate of love and joy, but it’s hard for voters to ignore the associations conjured by his name. It may not help that his cousin, Rocky II, won the 2016 Arnie Schwartzenschnauzer World Bodybuilding Championship. Even with Rocky’s frequent “I’m a poodle, not a boxer!” denials, one can only wonder whether his pugilistic connections will bleed into Rocky’s politics.
Lastly, Tinker’s public image is based on a love of locally grown vegetables, the busting of fresh dance moves, and a penchant for kissing.
While Ginger is campaigning on an anti-plastics platform, she (and the other candidates) are more than happy for voters to use their plastic to vote online, until 3 p.m. on July 7.
Layna Mosley and Andrew Reynolds are professors in the Department of Political Science at UNC Chapel Hill. They spend their summers on Orcas, and all three of their kids have attended Children’s House, sponsor of the Honorary Mayor of Eastsound race.