In the Carmel mayor’s race, Dogman McBill doesn’t stand a chance, which is OK by him
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sue McCloud doesn’t have serious opposition in her run for a fifth term as Carmel-by-the-Sea mayor. She does, however, have goofy opposition.
Although his business card reads simply, “Dogman McBill / Carmel Mayor / 2008,” McCloud’s challenger isn’t focused on the election’s outcome. “Whether I win or not is irrelevant,” he says, sipping black coffee at Friar Tuck’s diner in Carmel. “I like Sue. I think she’s been a good mayor. Her only problem: She’s been there too long.”
With his long, brindled hair flowing into a ZZ Top mustache and beard, McBill’s looks suit his stage name. (His parents dubbed him William Clement Winfield II.) More than 7 feet tall at 62 years old, he wears all black – from his socks to his tycoon hat – and drives a black classic Lincoln. “Dogman” comes from a road show he and his wife ran in the ’80s and ’90s, involving 18 English Staffordshire bull terriers.
McBill has lived in Carmel since 1968, playing music with family support. He sings a few lines he composed for his comedy-folk band, Ramma Jamma and the Slingshots: “I choose to remain free. / Gimme summa that old-fashioned freedom. / It truly saved my soul.”
Full of soul, maybe, but short on experience. McBill says he first considered public service two years ago, when his mother told him, “You’re gettin’ old. You oughtta do something.” So he announced his candidacy for mayor, becoming the incumbent’s only challenger in the 2006 election. McCloud trounced him with 74 percent of the vote, but that doesn’t bother McBill. What gets his goat is that fewer than half of Carmel’s registered voters actually exercised the right.
It’s the same reasoning this time around. “If somebody else would’ve run, I wouldn’t have,” he says. “She has to run an American-style election rather than sit up there as a dictator.”
He complains about the city’s suburbanization and oil consumption, but he doesn’t offer solutions he’d pursue as mayor. His main idea is to do a “mayor’s patrol” by talking to people regularly. He says he’ll consider his race a success if a majority of the city electorate votes for McCloud – or, of course, if he wins. “I’m trying to put some humor into this,” he says. “I’m trying to lighten people up and get them out there to vote.”Sitting in her City Hall office with her terrier, Robbie, at her feet, McCloud seems McBill’s polar opposite. Her credentials include four two-year terms as mayor, one term as a city councilwoman, an appointed stint on the Planning Commission, service on a half-dozen local boards and committees, and 31 years in the CIA. Her campaign brochure lists achievements including the fire station retrofit, Sunset Center renovation, major city debt repayments and a new city website.
Her goals for the next term include updating the General Plan, improving Forest Theater and dealing with the city’s diminishing water supply. She speaks about the “greening” of Carmel and the challenge of reconciling environmental principles with the city’s strict design guidelines.
As for McBill’s quibbles with her tenure, McCloud points to almost 30-year Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass and former Monterey Mayor Dan Albert, who served for 20 years.
McBill’s opposition does have its intended effect of forcing McCloud to court voters. She says she spends a good portion of four months per term campaigning, which she probably wouldn’t do if she were running unopposed.
The front of her campaign brochure features a photo of her and Robbie; inside is a cartoon terrier with a “Vote McCloud” banner streaming from its mouth. That’s one thing Sue McCloud has in common with Dogman McBill. “I’m the Dog Lady,” she says with a laugh.