The portraits of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been removed from their spots on the wall of the Jackson, Wyoming Town Hall. The removal, which was initiated by Mayor Pete Muldoon, has sparked national controversy and earned the ire of Trump and Pence supporters in Jackson and in Teton County.
Teton County, in which Jackson is located, was the only county in the state of Wyoming to not support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
In a lengthy statement, Muldoon explained that the Trump and Pence portraits no longer grace the walls of the Town Hall because the president is a “divisive figure” and the portraits would offend some of the residents of Jackson. The decision, he insisted, had nothing to do with politics.
The portraits of President Donald Trump and of Vice President Mike Pence have been replaced by one of Native American Chief Washakie, a prominent warrior and former head of the Eastern Shoshones.
Muldoon, who took office in January, reminded the residents of Jackson that their town government is a non-partisan body and that because they do not work for the federal government, they are not required to hang a photo of Donald Trump in the Town Hall.
“There’s a tradition of hanging portraits of the president in federal offices within the executive branch — not unlike how grocery stores display pictures of the manager,” he explained. “It illustrates the chain of command for that branch of government.”
“But the Town of Jackson is not in the president’s chain of command.”
Because the town is not required to hang Donald Trump’s portrait, Muldoon said, the only reason for them to do so would be to honor the president. However, as not all of Jackson’s residents support Trump and his administration, putting his portrait up at the Town Hall is problematic.
“Whether you agree with his opinions or not, it’s undeniably true that many residents intensely dislike him, and find his political views odious.”
Former President Barack Obama, Muldoon clarified, evoked the same response from some of those who live in Jackson. According to the mayor, if Obama was still president, he would make the same decision. He noted that there was a portrait of Barack Obama at the Town Hall, but that it was put up before he became mayor.
“I don’t believe it should have been displayed either.”
The first term Jackson mayor reminded his constituents that the United States is a constitutional republic and that Donald Trump and Mike Pence “are people just like everyone else.”
“We aren’t required to display signs of respect — our respect is earned, not demanded.”
“Dictators like Joseph Stalin required their portraits to be displayed everywhere,” Muldoon wrote.
“Luckily, we do not live in a dictatorship. We can choose who we honor.”
But local Republicans aren’t buying Muldoon’s explanation. In a video message posted on his Facebook page, Republican lawmaker Tyler Lindholm from the 1st District of Wyoming suggested that the move was politically motivated.
“As far as I know, no public office ever took down President Obama’s picture or Vice President Biden’s picture. And yet as soon as a Republican is elected, Jackson takes a stance that they’re going to jerk their pictures down. I guess that shows character, doesn’t it.”
Paul Vogelheim, the chairman of the Teton County Republican Party, told the Washington Post that he considered Muldoon’s move “totally disrespectful” and “political showboating.”
The Teton County Republican Party has launched a petition titled “Support Tradition and Respect for the Office of the Presidency.” It asks the Jackson Town Council to return the portraits of Donald Trump and Mike Pence and to pass a resolution that will require the photos of the sitting president and vice president to always hang in all local government buildings in Teton County.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]