Today on Day’s to remember, we celebrate how on April 8th 1986, the actor Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel California.
Like Dirty Harry, he was fighting bureaucracy, waging a war on bylaws in his adopted hometown of Carmel. His campaign certainly made the media’s day but when he got a whopping 72% of the poll, even former President Reagan phoned with envious congratulations.
Clint insisted during his two year period as mayor that it was not the launch pad for larger political ambitions. His concern was strictly with Carmel. “We got rid of quite a lot of punitive attitudes on the council and helped people get things done,” he claimed later. “We got things built — beach walkways, a library annex which had been waiting 25 years, and so on. I approached it from a business point of view, not a political one.”
The reason Clint entered the political arena in the first place was that he believed he was being disrespectfully treated by the little city’s administration, and he was upset about it.
Hassled with rules, regulations, and taxes regarding building permits and zoning laws, and tired of getting the runaround and going through endless miles of red tape with the city, Clint decided to fight back, which reminds me of the quote from Ghandi when he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
His strategy was very basic: He never attacked the previous mayor named Townsend directly; he gave no interviews to the national press, and stayed tightly involved in the community.
He did almost no paid advertising just some buttons and bumper stickers. It was, all in all, one of the most tasteful campaigns in the history of modern American politics.
He politely refused autographs when he was out on walking tours. His slogan was simple, “Bringing the Community Together,” and in talks he stressed his desire to build bridges between the business community and the residential community. His strategy worked!
On April 8th, 1986, with twice the voter turnout showing up, Clint got a whopping 72.5 % of the vote. To show that there were no hard feelings, a week later at his inaugural ceremony, he gave Townsend and two of her close allies some potted redwood seedlings as reconciliatory gifts.
Though he enjoyed his experience, he opted not to run for a second term. He began to reach this conclusion one day standing in a chilly garage, surrounded by staff and council members trying to decide if a prominent Carmel citizen, a doctor, would be permitted to change the slope of his garage roof.
Life was too short for this kind of pettiness. Late in 1987 he announced that he would not stand for a second term. And although he made two films while in office (Heartbreak Ridge and Bird), in early 1988, Clint was back to devote a full time effort to his career in film.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell