During a time of crisis, elected officials are a beacon of hope for community members looking for assurance, leadership, advice and guidance. Leaders who don't deliver can face serious consequences. After Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, the mayor was raked over the coals for his lackluster performance.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has declared a state disaster for several communities, including Talkeetna, pledging state assistance during recovery. When asked if Gov. Parnell was able to meet with Talkeetna's mayor during the governor's visit there in the wake of the storm, Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said, "No, no meetings with Mr. Stubbs took place."
So as the Talkeetna River levee broke and water started pouring in, where was Mayor Stubbs?
Stubbs is not your average mayor. For starters, he's a cat. Second, while he is mayor only unofficially, his name and position have traveled the world and he is now without a doubt the most famous feline in Alaska -- and perhaps even the state's most famous mayor. Even folks in Australia know him as the Mayor of Talkeetna.
Only one breed of cats, the Turkish Van, is known for its zeal for water, and Stubbs is not one of them. When the floods arrived, did he disappear? Or did he rise to the challenge and get his paws wet (then quickly flick each of them dry)?
As the best-known feline mayor in the world, Stubbs's behavior carries implications for ambitious cats everywhere. The campaigns of Tuxedo Stan, running for Mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and of Hank, running to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate, could rise and fall with Stubbs. A Stubbs miscue would certainly have the members of an anti-Hank Super PAC, backed by a collection of dogs, licking their chops as November draws near.
How did Stubbs handle things when disaster hit and his community needed him? Did all that fame go to his head?
When Alaska Dispatch reached Mayor Stubbs this week, he was sitting high and dry on a caribou-fur rug draped across a dog sled, his favorite spot.