New mayor of Michigan town 'purr-fect' for politics

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Sweet Tart

Politics in a small northern Michigan village has gone to the dogs — and cats.

Those animals, plus goats, chickens and even peacocks, were among the candidates for mayor in Omena, a small community in Leelanau County, north of Traverse City. 

Omena elected its first feline mayor, named Sweet Tart McKee, was inaugurated at the town's annual parade Saturday. 

Canines Diablo Shapiro and Punkin Anderson Harder were named vice mayor and second vice mayor. The Omena Historical Society election committee named Harley the goat the town's press secretary and Penny the chicken will serve as special assistant for fowl affairs.

The 18-candidate race included 13 dogs, two cats, one goat, one peacock and one chicken. Nine-year-old Sweet Tart's platform indicates she's not a beginner: she served from 2012-15 on the Omena Village Council and as vice mayor of Omena from 2015-18.

For the fourth animal mayoral election, this is the first time the mayor has been a cat, said Sally Shapiro, agent for the animals.  

Sweet Tart inducted at annual parade on Saturday.

"She was the vice mayor in the last election and then the mayor, a three-leg dog, died in office when he was 12 years old," said Shapiro, also owner of Diablo. "Sweet Tart clawed her way to the top."

"I represent the best of Leelanau County with the Sweet and Tart cherries," Sweet Tart's profile says. "I have had experience with governing/supervising my household. And having been vice mayor for 3 years, fulfilling all my expected duties, I know I could handle the mayor position."

Shapiro said the election for the ceremonial posts is a fundraiser for the society, costing $1 per vote and brought in more than $7,500 to the Omena Historical Society.

The newly elected officers will serve three-year terms. Candidates have to be animals and live in Omena, which has about 300 human residents.

Sweet Tart isn't the only cat that's moved up in the ranks. In May, the Troy Police Department named a 10-week old kitten, Pawfficer Donut, its first feline officer. 

The Troy Police Department launched the feline unit after they launched a Twitter challenge that called for 10,000 new followers by April. The department reached its goal weeks before April and inspired other departments' challenges, like that of the Toledo police.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_