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Five-year-old Dorset ‘mayor’ ends his term; long live the new ‘mayor,’ who is 16

Eric Mueller of Mendota Heights became the honorary mayor of the tiny resort town when his name was pulled out of a bucket Sunday.

The newly selected mayor is 16-year-old Eric Mueller, center, of Mendota Heights, whose family vacations in the area.

Five-year-old Bobby Tufts didn’t cry Sunday when it came time to give up his honorary post as mayor of Dorset.

Bobby had been mayor for two years, and a popular one, too. His reign in the tiny northern Minnesota resort town — where votes for mayor are purchased for $1 each and the winner’s name is pulled at random — has brought international attention to the town of 20-some residents, four restaurants, a book store, a B&B and other shops.

But while the constant whirl of attention was fun for Bobby, it was hard on his family, and after two terms they (mostly mom, Emma Tufts), decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let someone else have a turn.

So the family didn’t actively campaign this year, although Bobby did have some votes in the bucket this year, from fans who wanted him to continue in office.

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The mayoral selection happened during Sunday’s Taste of Dorset event, and by all accounts, Bobby did quite well when the new name was pulled, and it wasn’t his. 

“He did really well; he didn’t get sad,” Emma Tufts said. Some of that might be because he’d been the focus of lots of attention all day, as he and his brother autographed a cook booklet that the family has prepared, and he collected canned goods donations for the Ronald McDonald House, his top priority as mayor.

The full impact might come later: “He might have a meltdown in the next few days, but I think he understands it’s time for someone else,” Emma Tufts said Monday.

Laura Kempnich, whose family owns two of the town’s restaurants, said the transition of power went quite smoothly.

“Bobby was almost matter of fact about it; his mother prepared him very well, letting him know it was time to pass the hat,” Kempnich said.

The newly selected mayor is 16-year-old Eric Mueller of Mendota Heights, whose family vacations in the area.

Mueller had been in the Dorset House earlier this summer with friends, and tried the fried ice cream. Then he ordered another, and another and another.

Owner Rick Kempnich joked that the record for fried ice cream in one sitting was four, so Mueller, with the bravado of youth, ordered the fifth, and ate it.

Later, his family came to the restaurant and started voting for “Eric for Mayor.”

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Laura Kempnich said that Bobby likely had more votes in the box than Mueller, which shows that the process is random.

Don’t be surprised if the Tufts name resurfaces in the political arena.

At Sunday’s event, Bobby and his 2-year-old brother, James, wore signs that said: “Team Tufts for President, 2048.”

And the word is that young James wants to campaign for Dorset mayor next year.

“If James does run, Bobby wants to be his political adviser,” the proud mom said.