A Wyoming mayor is standing by his decision to remove official portraits of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from his office and replace them with a picture of a Native American chief.
"When the Town Of Jackson decides to honor such a divisive person [as Trump], it is taking sides against some of its residents," Mayor Pete Muldoon of Jackson, Wyoming, wrote in a June 11 press release. "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."
Muldoon said that he would have removed former President Barack Obama's portrait were he still in office, since Obama was also a polarizing leader.
"There has been an argument made that we should respect the office of the president, if not the president himself," he added. "Fair enough -- but there are two other equal branches of government, and no one seems particularly interested in displaying portraits of the Speaker of the House or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."
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Muldoon went on to say that in the U.S., as opposed to countries featuring dictatorships, respect for the president is "earned, not demanded," because American presidents "are people just like everyone else."
"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, and in my role as a representative of all town residents, I've decided that the Town of Jackson will not take sides by honoring any partisan politician and will continue to focus on the needs of all members of our community."
Shoshone Chief Washakie, whose likeness replaced the portraits of the two politicians, played a pivotal role in the state's history, both as a warrior and a peace broker who worked with fur trader Jim Bridger to establish the state's boundaries, notes Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Not everyone hailed the controversial move.
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"Hanging pictures of the president has been a tradition in the community since at least the mid-80s," County Commissioner Paul Vogelheim told Jackson Hole News and Guide. "I find this totally disrespectful and dishonoring of the position of the president. Even more so the concern is that it's bringing ugly national partisan politics into our community."
Vogelheim, a Republican, went on to call it "ironic" that the mayor would take "brash action … without collaborating or involving the rest of the Town Council," noting that it was a rather Trumpian move.
Muldoon told the paper that "it sends the wrong message" to openly support Trump as a government that "takes a lot of pride in the details" and in "respecting all members of the community."