There’s a new portrait of a government chief hanging in one Wyoming town hall, and it’s not President Donald Trump.
The president’s portrait hangs on the walls of many government buildings across the U.S., but Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon is no fan of Trump’s politics, so he decided to remove the president's picture. In Trump’s place, Muldoon hung a portrait of Shoshone Tribe Chief Washakie, a prominent Native American figure in Wyoming.
“Our town government takes a lot of pride in the details, in getting it right, in working together, in respecting all members of the community, in service to the public and in competence,” Muldoon told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Our current president shows no interest in any of these things, and I think it sends the wrong message when we honor him.
“If I was the CEO of a trusted investment firm,” he continued, “I wouldn’t have a portrait of Bernie Madoff hanging in the lobby, and having a portrait of Donald Trump hanging in Town Hall seems like the same thing to me.”
But not everyone is on board with Muldoon’s unilateral decision. County Commissioner Paul Vogelheim, chairman of the Teton County Republicans, called the mayor’s move “totally disrespectful and dishonoring of the position of the president.” He also said he was disappointed to see partisan politics make its way to Jackson.
“It’s ironic,” Vogelheim said. “This type of brash action — taken without collaborating or involving the rest of the town council — made me say, ‘Boy, that’s a kind of action similar to our president.’”
And state Rep. Tyler Lindholm, a Republican on the other side of Wyoming, took issue with Trump’s portrait being removed from the town hall, too.
“As far as pulling down the president’s pictures,” he said in a video posted to Facebook over the weekend, “I’m on the other side of the state. I come from the most conservative district in the state of Wyoming. By far we’ve got more Republicans here — registered Republicans — than any other house district.
“As far as I know,” he continued, “no public office ever took down President [Barack] Obama’s picture, or Vice President [Joe] Biden’s picture. And yet as soon as a Republican’s elected, Jackson takes the stance that they’re gonna jerk their pictures down. I guess that shows character, doesn’t it.”
While Muldoon had been talking about removing Trump’s portrait for some time, it was Councilman Jim Stanford’s idea to replace the president’s image with a portrait of Chief Washakie.
“We’re not a federal building so we’re not required to hang pictures of the president and vice president,” Stanford said. “There’s been a lot of redecorating going on around Town Hall. The mayor and I talked about continuing that trend, and I didn’t particularly like those pictures.
“Chief Washakie is somebody we can all get behind,” he added. “Town Hall should be a haven for people from all backgrounds.”
Washakie played a major role in the region and in protecting Indian tribal land in several places in the United States. Many of the treaties he signed, according to the News & Guide, are still recognized and protected by the U.S. government today.
But despite Chief Washakie’s pivotal role in the Cowboy State, some local lawmakers still aren’t OK with his portrait replacing the president’s.
“I never had the pleasure of meeting Chief Washakie, nor President Trump,” Councilman Don Frank said. “But I will say the office of the president deserves our respect.”