(BURLINGTON FREE PRESS) — If you haven’t heard, Fair Haven has just elected its first mayor: a 3-year-old Nubian goat named Lincoln. On Tuesday, she had to be sworn in.
The first problem: The Mayor-elect didn’t want to come out from her field.
Then there was the issue of getting her loaded into a cage in the back of a pick-up truck.
“This is the hard part,” said Chris Stanton. Then he asked his wife to grab the Mayor-elect’s head. She did so. He crouched down and scooped up the newly-elected goat and gingerly stuffed her into the cage without too much fuss.
The Mayor-elect seemed pleased to find dinner waiting in the cage.
Then Chris and his wife Sally of Fair Haven, Vermont, hopped in the truck, and drove Lincoln into town. All the while, she called out to her constituents, bleating out at the stop sign by the Stewart’s Shop, and chiming more as the truck drove through town with a few news crews in tow.
Waiting at the Fair Haven town offices was Town Clerk Suzanne Dechame — who is also town treasurer — along with the Selectboard to administer the Oath of Office. Police Chief Bill Humphries held the door when the goat arrived.
Chair Bob Richards wore a wry smile as the goat — wearing a sash with the word ‘MAYOR’ sown on in white felt — entered the small conference room to the applause of more than a dozen assembled there. He then offered a wink to 4-year-old Sullivan Clark, Chris Stanton’s grandson, whose nomination of Lincoln was about to become election history.
But then came the second problem: How does a goat sign the necessary paperwork?
Dechame had thought ahead.
She produced an ink pad that Mayor-Elect Lincoln reluctantly stepped on with her right front hoof. She then made her ‘signature’ by stomping on the paper and it was done.
With that, on Tuesday night, March 12, just before 7 p.m., the small Vermont town officially swore in a goat as mayor.
The vote had been a close one.
Town Manager Joe Gunter came up with the idea as a way to raise money for a school play ground. Kids throughout the town were allowed, for a modest $5 fee, to nominate an animal of their choice for the position of Mayor. All told, more than a dozen made the run for office, even a dog named Stella who liked to suck a baby pacifier.
Some in town are not convinced that voters made the right choice.
“It’s been baaaaad so far,” joked one municipal employee, who refused to be identified for fear of retaliation — of butting heads — with the new administration.
But on Town Meeting Day, Lincoln the goat was the clear winner, beating out the pack (… or herd?) with 13 votes.
And although the swearing in was a success, within minutes of assuming office, the police chief was already dealing with the Mayor’s first mess; he grabbed a broom and dust pan after her Goatness couldn’t wait for a bathroom.
“Note the crap,” joked Mark Gutel, owner of local coffee shop Kinder Way Cafe. “It’s just like any other meeting.”
But all agreed that the mess was worth the trouble if it helped fund the town’s playground. Stanton, who teaches in town, says they plan to hold the election every year as both a fundraiser and a civics lesson for kids.
Although it might also be a lesson in waste management.