(Gillette, Wyo.) “Wyoming” only becomes a keyword in national news on rare occasions. The last time was when Kanye West was hiding out somewhere in “the mountains of Wyoming” to work on his new album. Now, we have a new claim to viral fame: Portraitgate.
Last weekend, Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon removed the portrait of President Donald Trump that had previously been displayed at the Jackson Town Hall. He replaced it with a portrait of historical Wyoming figure Chief Washakie instead.
The story was quickly picked up by national news agencies, from the Washington Times to Fox News. Comments poured into Muldoon’s email, most of them outraged at his decision, although a significant amount of support was expressed also.
Opponents of the decision feel that the Mayor is letting personal political views influence his actions to the detriment of the entire Jackson community. Although the controversy has already demonstrably affected local business, Mayor Muldoon and Vice-Mayor Jim Stanford continue to vociferously defend their actions. Their position is that municipal buildings are not even a part of the federal system and the automatic inclusion of portraits of executive branch representatives sends the wrong message.
Muldoon said, “When the Town Of Jackson decides to honor such a divisive person, it is taking sides against some of its residents. The Town Council has made no such decision, and until and unless it does, that kind of honor will not be bestowed. I don’t know who put up the portrait of Trump, but it was not authorized by myself or the Council. If Barack Obama was still president, I would make the same decision. There was a picture of Obama at Town Hall, and it was put up before I was elected mayor. I don’t believe it should have been displayed either. So I’ll be replacing presidential portraits with an organizational chart of federal, state and local government, which will make clear that the citizens, through Congress, are sovereign and create policies which the Supreme Court ensures are consistent with our Constitution and are subsequently executed by the president.”
The choice to use the portrait of Chief Washakie instead was described as an attempt to find commonality. Vice Mayor Stanford said, “Chief Washakie is somebody we can all get behind. Town Hall should be a haven for people from all backgrounds.”
This story by Kevin Knapp was originally published in a June 14 post on dallyup.co.