One candidate for mayor in Cumberland may turn the race into a "dog-eat-dog" contest. The other candidates already are growling about him.
That candidate? Scott, the dog.
According to his chief aide and campaign spokesman, Armand M. Pannone Jr., Scott has all the qualities of the ideal politician.
"He's loyal, trustworthy, he's never spent any money and he has never bitten the hand that feeds him," Pannone said. "He knows when to bark and he comes when called by his constituents."
Scott, a 15-year-old retired watchdog, is one of six candidates for the city's highest public office in the May 18 election.
His opponents, though, don't appreciate Scott's campaign. Candidate George M. Wyckoff said, "The whole thing is a disgrace to the city." Candidate Hetzel Wolfe called it "damn silly--hellishly silly."
Besides Wyckoff and Wolfe, other candidates in the mayor's race are Wallace Ullery, R. Donald Shaffer, Charles J. Garlitz and incumbent mayor Frank Nethken.
Nethken doesn't think Scott's write-in campaign is funny either.
"I don't get it," Nethken said, noting that Cumberland is plagued with serious problems that include "chronically high unemployment," fiscal problems and a generally poor image.
Nethken said he has attempted to boost citizens' spirits and has encouraged surrounding commmunities to annex into Cumberland to raise its population and its clout, but to no avail. Nethken said his effectiveness is hampered by what he called "the weak-mayor form of government."
"With God as my judge, I think I have done the very best I can," Nethken said. "If a guy thinks a dog can do as good a job as I can, I think that's a joke in very poor taste. I realize there's a need for humor sometimes, but I don't think government's the place for jokes."
Pannone says Scott's candidacy is a joke with a point. "He can do what the other candidates are saying they're going to do--the best they can." He said although running the dog is a spoof, he did it partly to focus more attention on what the other mayoral candidates are saying.
Scott, a canine-American and the equivalent of roughly 105 years old in human terms, faces certain hurdles. But his campaign kick-off recently at Kamauf's Tavern attracted nearly 150 back-patting, hand-shaking fans--four times the number of supporters who turned out the same night to hear the other six candidates debate issues at Cumberland Community College, Pannone said.
Said to be vacationing at his summer hide-away, Scott could not be reached for comment. But he has been described as a dog of few words.
In a recent interview with the Cumberland Sunday Times, Scott was asked his outlook on the campaign. His reply: "Rough."