Politics is a dog-eat-dog arena, and that’s why there’s no better top dog for the job than Sally Long Dog. Like a good New Yorker, she loves pizza, going for walks, and despises stairs.
In a proper “Indoguration” ceremony held in front of City Hall on Jan. 14, the six-year-old Basset Hound was given a key-shaped “Dog Bone to the City” and cooed at in baby-talk by adoring attendees.
“It turns out it is possible to make politics inspiring and fun, engaging to the masses, to see politics as something that will make the world a better place,” said Stephen Calabria, creator of the NYC Dog Mayor Elections. “The honorary dog mayor and deputy dog mayor of New York City are just the kinds of ‘paw-liticians’ we’ve been waiting for.”
Not far from Sally Long Dog’s heel will be Riley the Golden Retriever, who voters selected as the second-in-command, NYC Dog Deputy Mayor. Runner-ups included Augustus the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from the Upper West Side and Peanut the French Bulldog from the Financial District.
“It was a really tough race, to be honest,” Sally’s owner, Cassondra Bazelow said. “I feel like there’s so many people who love Golden Retrievers.”
Staten Island became the underdog borough after the unfortunate, untimely death of its only candidate, Diesel, before elections took place. The 16 candidates represented the other boroughs, with Manhattan and Brooklyn being the most well-represented.
“I feel like now’s the time for a good gerrymandering joke, right?,” quipped Bazelow.
In a March Madness-style bracket that took place this past August, voters took to social media polls to vote their favorite canines into power. While the competition wasn’t meant to be pugnacious, Bazelow, who resides in the East Village, kept Sally’s campaign’s chops sharp by using her professional work in advertising to create graphics that many New Yorkers would understand on a deep level.
She came prepared with a memorable slogan: Rally for Sally. She posed with the FDNY in her East Village base. She brought back a viral photo of Sally Long Dog inside an Ikea bag on the subway, sitting on top of a toppled trash bin, and in one especially cheeky photo, Sally being a good girl and curbing.
Calabria created the NYC dog mayor elections — which he modeled after a Colorado town’s similar, dog mayor election — in the hopes of pushing for initiatives to address everyday issues like trash, noise pollution, and a dearth of accessible resources for dog owners who live in underfunded neighborhoods.
“We hope to build this institution to push for initiatives at the city level that transcend politics, that are common sense, and have broad public appeal,” Calabria said. “Things like reducing New York City’s ongoing problems with trash cleanup and noise pollution to making poop bags more accessible to New York City’s lower-income communities. When we make strides on these fronts, it will be because of the dog mayor.”
Bazelow herself hopes to see more dog-friendly businesses and parks, and longer off-leash hours at dog parks. Ultimately, what she wants Sally Long Dog’s new mayoralty — set to last one year, or seven in dog years — to bring is simple and pure.
“There’s an opportunity to bring joy to people,” Bazelow said. “I think that in itself is a pretty good initiative.”
The NYC dog mayor elections are scheduled for every year starting in July, with two final candidates up for the public’s vote in late fall. While “canine-didates” must reside within the city’s boroughs — perhaps a doghouse-penalty if found living in a different state — voters can live anywhere.
Said Calabria: “We hope to use this platform to make people feel good about politics, to add some light to an otherwise dark period in our history, and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers, both humans and canines alike.”