DIVIDE, Colo. — The Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS) Mayoral Race in Divide is heating up and the competition is fierce.
Below are the top three mayoral candidates and their current number of votes (as of Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m.):
Each vote costs $2; all funds received benefit the animals at TCRAS. Voting will be held from Feb. 14 through April 5, 2022.
Keep an eye on the candidates and their vote totals here.
Below is the story of how the TCRAS mayoral race came to be, courtesy of TCRAS:
Back in 1998, there was no TCRAS and the shelter that was in Divide was understaffed and underfunded. Over time, the Board of Directors went through a complete overhaul and a new manager and staff were hired. Someone created a website, board members or volunteers took better photos of animals and they started doing more fundraising, adoption fairs and community outreach.
Just before 2010, a board member, Sue Hearon, had seen a segment on CBS Sunday morning about a small town that needed funds to refurbish a public building. It was an unincorporated town which had no mayor, so they decided to try and raise money by having animals run for mayor and have each vote cost $1. It was a rural area, so they had chickens, goats, cows, horses etc. as candidates. It was very popular and they did raise enough for their project. Since Divide is also unincorporated and the shelter is in Divide, Sue thought it might work here to raise money for TCRAS. She presented it to the rest of the Board and got the green light to go ahead.
Never having done this before, Sue wasn’t sure where to begin, but she did know of a few pets that were at local business, so she decided to use working animals and animals that went to work with their people to see if they would be interested in running for Mayor. Sue went to the businesses where owners had their pets, told them what the shelter wanted to do and they all agreed to participate, so she and her husband started taking photographs of the initial candidates. The first one was Walter the cat at the Animal Clinic of Woodland Park. He was well known as he always sat on the bench in the reception area to greet the clients. Then we got Gracie and Miss Money Penny from One Song (a gift shop), Roper from Cowbells (another gift shop) and Rocco and Blue from Michael’s Motorcycles. Four didn’t seem like enough and Sue was concerned, so they added Bailey, Dr Conrad’s dog from the Woodland Veterinary Clinic and by then the word was out and TCRAS was getting calls from and references to other businesses in town with pets. By the time they were finished, there were 24 dogs (some worked in duos) and 4 cats in the running. Ballot boxes were put at every animal’s place of business and their webmaster created a program so that voting could be done online. The Courier, our local paper, did a story on the race, as did the Gazette in Colorado Springs. TCRAS had great support locally and even started getting votes from out of town!
Everyone thought Walter was a shoe-in, but they were wrong! There had been a little Pit-Bull mix at the shelter, who had an injured leg which had to be amputated. Everyone thought this poor dog had the cards stacked against her as it was hard enough to find a home for any dog that looked like a Pit Bull and this one only had 3 legs. Fortunately, the mobile Pet Vet, Dr. Lisa Berg had met the dog when she had her surgery at the Animal Clinic of Woodland Park (Walter’s home turf) and fell in love with her. She adopted the dog, named her Spright and took her with her in her truck to appointments. Some of the owners did some campaigning for their pets, but Dr. Berg went all out, writing a weekly blog with campaign updates, making personal appearances at outdoor events and promoting Spright at every opportunity. It became a hard-core competition between Walter and Spright. They were neck and neck right up to the end, then at the final hour of voting someone made a large online donation for Spright and she squeaked into the lead becoming the very first Mayor of Divide!
So that’s how it all got started and the race for Mayor of Divide continues every other year to coincide with Woodland Parks *human* Mayoral election. One of Woodland Park’s previous Mayors once jokingly complained that the Divide Mayor get more coverage. Interesting note – in the next election, there were only 9 candidates and Walter did win the coveted title and even though he has since passed away, his award is proudly displayed at the Animal Clinic of Woodland Park.