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This quaint town elects dogs as mayors and voters are loyal to a dynasty of golden retrievers

Adorable dogs get elected as mayor of this quaint town and raise money with their appearances for various causes.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Mayor Max
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Mayor Max

From the Kennedys and Clintons to the Bush family and political clans started by iconic leaders across the globe, dynasties are very much alive and well even in democracy. Despite a family legacy, it remains and uphill task for leaders to establish credibility. But Idyllwild, a small mountain community about 25 miles south of Banning has managed to pick a mayor that everyone trusts wholeheartedly. As reported by the LA Times, the town has actually elected a golden retriever, who might or might not have reaped the benefits of his family's goodwill.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Helena Lopes
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Helena Lopes

At present the position of mayor is occupied by a 1-year-old, fully grown American purebred golden retriever legally named Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller III. He is lovingly called Mayor Max by the entire town. This tradition of electing dogs goes back to 2012, and Max is the third canine to take up this position. The whole thing started off as a fundraiser, to generate money for various causes. Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends came up with the idea according to Phyllis Mueller, 72, who serves as the mayor's co-chief of staff alongside her husband, Glen Warren, 59. The adorable dogs do not interfere in the political workings of the place, as they are handled by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. The area is unincorporated and the post of Mayor is just nominal.


Animals were invited to participate in the election from all across the town. The only rule was that they had to live in Idyllwild or the nearby towns of Fern Valley, Pine Cove, or Mountain Center. The cost of casting a vote was $1 and ultimately, 31,000 votes were cast, of which 21,132 votes were in favor of Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller. 13 other dogs and 2 cats were also running for office. After Mueller became the winner, two other mayors followed from the same family. “When you become the president of the United States, half the people in the country hate you on the first day — that’s not fun,” Phyllis Mueller said. “But it would be fun to be able to create a mayoral office without anybody pushing an agenda on you that you have to be one way or another.


Mayor Max's popularity is used by authorities to attract attention to various issues. “If I were mayor of Idyllwild and I told people that I was going to be downtown at 2 p.m. to meet the people, most people wouldn’t come and they certainly wouldn’t come every day,” Mueller said. “If I publish that Mayor Max is going to be downtown at 2 p.m. ... hundreds of people will come because it’s interesting and unusual to see a dog as a mayor.” The mayor makes private appearances in schools, nursing homes, hospice organizations, and businesses all through the year. No fee is charged to meet the Mayor, but the organization does accept donations which oftentimes are more than enough for their objectives. 


The first Mayor Max succumbed to Cancer and had to be put down by his owners in 2013. He was followed up by another American purebred golden retriever, who under the name Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II took the office till the end of the term. The town no longer wanted elections and wanted the pup to continue. He served till 2022 and unfortunately also met his death by cancer. Mayor Max III began his term on December 9, 2022, at the age of 3 months.

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