How mayor’s ‘nonpartisan’ executive order decorating played, politically

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The dustup over the removal of the POTUS portrait from the town hall was never meant to be a political statement, in fact, Mayor Pete Muldoon has repeatedly said part of the reason he did it was because the town is a politically-neutral place. But that still hasn’t prevented political groups from seizing the opportunity to engage in the same divisive rhetoric seen at the national level over President Trump and the rift between ”blue” and “red” ideology.

Former chair of the Teton County Democrat Party, Luther Propst, spoke heatedly at a Monday council meeting where the issue was discussed right from the opening. He set his sights squarely on the opposition party, calling their online poll and reaction to the mayor’s “redecorating” nothing more than tactical.

“In our community, there is no benefit to combative partisan politics,” Propst began. “The Teton County GOP could have responded in a civil way. Instead they launched a poll to score points, and maximize the scorn…and fanned the flames of divisiveness. Don’t empower this ugly partisan gamesmanship. This is a political trick.”

Propst was joined by the Dem’s national committeewoman, Jessica Sell Chambers. She stressed civility and the elimination of what she said was massive hypocrisy.

“I respect your decision-making. I elected you, though it’s not something I would have done,” Sell Chambers said, addressing the mayor. “This became partisan when national press was notified. I’m guessing it was made aware by local GOP. “

County Democratic Party vice chair Michael Yin referenced the fact that presidential portraits are absent from a number of government buildings throughout the state, let alove a public non-partisan place like the town hall. “Essentially this is a mountain made out of a molehill. This is a manufactured controversy,” he said.

Jackson Hole Tea Party leader Bob Culver made s statement as well, saying it was about respect for the office. “When you are given a title—whether president, vice president, mayor, governor, doctor—when a title goes with your name, that deserves your respect. Take this where it should be: in front of the entire council,” he said.

Teton County Republican Party leaders weighed in just hours after the council meeting where it was decided the pictures of the President, Vice President, and governor should be hung at town hall always. A joint resolution carried in first part (the decision rests with the council) on a 4-1 vote with Muldoon opposed. The second resolution (the pictures voted on would be POTUS, his VP, and the Governor of Wyoming) passed 3-2, with Muldoon and Jim Stanford opposed.

Local GOP applauded the decision.

“Tonight’s discussion by the Jackson town council represents the very best of our community. Citizens with diverse opinions were able to come together and engage in a passionate, but civil dialogue,” said Teton County Republican Party Chair Paul Vogelheim in a prepared release. “Our form of government is much bigger than any one position, person or party, but our respect for our government and its institutions is instrumental to its survival. We appreciate the decisive and swift action taken by the Jackson Town Council and thank Councilwoman Morton-Levinson for her leadership on this issue.”

Republican leaders say more than 650 county residents (including Republicans, Democrats and Independents) voiced support of returning the photos of the President and Vice President in their online poll.

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