Monday, July 23, 2012


“He’s honest,” says one resident.
“We have no sales tax, thanks to him,” says another.
“I’ve never seen a dog mess with him. Canines respect him, too.”

They were being given away in front of Nagley’s General Store–a cardboard box wriggling with litter of kittens, and one without a tail burrowing near the back. Lauri Stec, manager of the general store chose him to keep, and called the kitten Stubbs.

The fortuitous morning would bring happy changes to the Alaskan town of Talkeetna, population: 800 humans. It’s a town that people often pass through on their way to Mount McKinley, and where dogs are allowed to roam free and outnumber the human population.

It’s also a place where residents speak their mind, and though the town is designated a “historic district” they still very much need and want a mayor who represents them well.
Enter the kitten named Stubbs, who became a popular attraction at Nagley’s with the locals as soon as he made himself comfortable. 

So when the town voters weren’t content with any of the human candidates on the ballot in the mayoral election, Stubbs was written in as a candidate. Stubbs won.

That was 15 years ago and during that time the kitten (formality took over once he became the “fat cat” of the town, so it’s been “Mr.” ever since) has taken Talkeetna from anonymity to a tourist attraction.

But if you think voting Mr. Stubbs in as mayor was only some kind of prank or a huge publicity stunt, well, the resident’s couldn’t be happier with their tax-free situation, or the fact that their mayor (who has a Facebook following of over 6,000 subscribers) is the talk of the town. Yes, the cat brings in tourists who want to meet the town’s feline mayor and shake his han—I mean, scratch his back or say hello. But after they do, they usually also have lunch at Mountain High Pizza Pie or the West Rib Cafe & Pub, and shop at stores, well—like Nagley’s.

“He doesn’t raise our taxes-we have no sales tax, and he doesn’t interfere with business,” says Lauri Stec.

And like any good mayor, Mr. Stubbs also pays daily visits to most of the establishments in town. “He’s always in the restaurant,” says Todd Basilone, of Mountain High Pizza Pie. “Stubbs wanders into every place in town.”

And what about Mr. Mayor Stubbs himself? How does he feel about running a town since he was an infant, and about dozens of onlookers who come every day to Talkeetna, Alaska, just to see him? Rumor has it that some of this attention has made Mayor Stubbs as demanding at times as a human.

“Throughout the day I have to take care of the mayor,” said Skye Farrar, a clerk at Nagley’s. “He meowed and demanded to be picked up and put on the counter and taken away from the tourists. Then he had his long, afternoon nap.”

Well, wouldn’t you want to have a few special tax-free–and in this case, mostly dollar-free–perks while enjoying your dream job?

For Mayor Stubbs, that seems to be drinking water from a wine glass laced with catnip, and then curling up in front of one of the local businesses for a nice long nap afterwards–which seems to make both the town and its visitors very happy.


  1. Kudos to the residents for their wise choice & good taste!

  2. I agree, Kathy. In fact, the residents of TALKEETNA and the tourists who visit have nothing but good things to say about how the tax-free town has been run for the last 15 years under the watchful eye of Mayor Mr. Stubbs!Animals have such integrity, don't they?