In 1986, Clint Eastwood Was Elected Mayor of This California Town

We all know Clint Eastwood as the Hollywood legend — Oscar-winning actor Clint Eastwood, director Clint Eastwood, king of the western genre. The man wears countless hats because he's so talented. But did you know that you can add local politician to his long list of accomplishments? Back in 1986, he was elected mayor of Carmel, California. And, ice cream was part of his platform.

Then in his 50s, Eastwood was already a massively successful actor enjoying the quiet life in Carmel-by-the-sea in between filming. So why did he decide to run for public office? Well, it all started when the actor started getting seriously annoyed with the local city council. The final straw came when he was denied building a downtown structure. He ended up suing the city and winning in an out of court settlement. But he didn't stop there. 

He decided to run against Mayor Charlotte Townsend after her second term, putting his name in the mix hours before the deadline. Carmel had long been stuck in the past with outdating zoning laws and regulations. Between no street signs and the fact that the city literally couldn't sell ice cream cones, Eastwood became the radical candidate. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the people were all over the news of Mr. Eastwood following in his footsteps of taking Hollywood to public office.

While his celebrity definitely helped, the town was also passionately behind Mr. Eastwood after he saved The Mission Ranch animal sanctuary from being torn apart and turned into condos. He even spent $5 million of his personal money to keep it going with Carmel wasn't able to keep it afloat. Eastwood beat Townsend 2,166 to 799.

Actor Clint Eastwood leans against a fence at Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif., on the final day of his campaign for mayor of the village. The 55-year-old Eastwood, best known for his tough, no-nonsense film roles, won the election, April 8. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

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Throughout his two-year term, Eastwood actually took his position seriously. He came back for meetings even when he was filming and true to his word, legalized the selling and purchasing of ice cream in town. Whether certain residents liked it or not, his win also boosted local tourism. The "Clintsville" gift shop opened, as well as a Hyatt Regency, hilariously drawing in visitors with the slogan "Make My Stay," as a play off the classic "Go ahead, make my day" quote from Eastwood's character Dirty Harry. 

According to the Carmel By The Sea Journal, Eastwood made a lot of progress on making positive updates during his tenure.

"Under his gavel, the city has legalized the sale of ice cream cones, provided more public toilets, built new stairways to the town beach and expedited previously stalled efforts to expand Carmel's library."

After his term ended, Eastwood opted out of re-election. But it's clear that even as a full time professional in Hollywood, he was able to make a positive impact on the town he loved. He even donated his $200/month salary to a local center.

This article was originally published in April of 2020.

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