1986: Clint Eastwood Was Elected Mayor Of Carmel, California

By | April 8, 2020

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Clint Eastwood proudly holds up a t-shirt proclaiming him as the mayor of Carmel, California, during his acceptance speech on April 9, 1986. Source: Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

On April 8, 1986 Clint Eastwood became mayor of Carmel-By-The-Sea, California -- and the most famous local politician on the planet -- when he defeated incumbent Charlotte Townsend. This sleepy seaside town only had 4,500 residents and hardly any street signs. It was the perfect place for Eastwood, known for his Dirty Harry action movies and spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, to call home. It was also a great place to begin and end his political career, which was small in scale to say the least. According to the star he never really wanted to be mayor but after he butted heads with the city council over building office buildings on some of his property he decided to take matters into his own hands and change the city for good.

Why Carmel?

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source: monterey herald

Eastwood took up residence in Carmel in the early '70s, buying up property and even opening a few small businesses, like the Hog’s Breath, an English-style pub. After 14 years of living in the town he felt that the shopkeepers and business owners were getting the shaft from the city council, but that fight had been going on long before Eastwood thought of running. In 1929 the city council decided:

The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea is hereby determined to be primarily, essentially and predominantly a residential city wherein business and commerce have in the past, are now, and are proposed to be in the future subordinated to its residential character.

From then on, heated back-and-forth between citizens who liked Carmel the way it was and businesspeople, who wanted to make the town more tourist-friendly, simmered, but it didn’t reach a boil until the 1980s.