JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Just when the saga over Mayor Pete Muldoon’s decision to replace president Trump’s portrait with one of Chief Washakie looked like it would fade organically into the next news cycle, new life was breathed back into the controversy.
First, county Democrats felt the need to wade into the affair. Then a popular barbershop poll posts its results. Finally, the Chamber of Commerce drafts a letter to the mayor explaining how much damage his interior decorating of town hall has done to tourism so far.
On June 13, Teton County Democrats issued the following statement via Facebook concerning the photo swap flap and the Republic Party’s online petition to have Muldoon put Trump back. That petition gained more than a thousand signatures in support in its first two days.
“The Teton County Democrats find that the petition filed by the GOP is another attempt to derail the discourse around our real local issues. Instead of focusing on critical local issues, the GOP and their chair have decided to use an interior decorating decision to polarize our local political climate with ugly national politics.”
As promised earlier in the week, Teton Barbers released the results from its weeklong informal poll. Respondents had three choices to choose from—the mayor was wrong to do this, I support the mayor in his decision, or I officially don’t care.
In the end, 103 voters thought the mayor stepped out of line, 63 were in support of Muldoon for swapping town hall photos, and 46 did not care.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce has felt the brunt of the backlash. After the news went national, the town and chamber were pounded with emails and phone calls—many corresponding to say they were cancelling their trip to Jackson this summer.
Chamber VP Rick Howe originally downplayed the hubbub in an interview with the Planet published on June 14, but has now appeared to have come to realize a greater impact. Howe and the Chamber’s board of directors sent a letter to Mayor Muldoon informing him of the direct ramifications of his actions.
“We can confirm that this action is now causing significant impact to [the business community] and the people you represent. We can now connect this action and the focus it has gained to losses to date in over $100,000 in vacation bookings alone,” the letter stated. “We all need to look out for each other. The repercussions of that unintended focus by the media will continue to punish our community until you choose otherwise.”
As for the mayor, he has kept a low profile since the dustup went viral. Muldoon has been unavailable for media comment other than issuing his own presser explaining his decision on June 11. The town council meets this Monday, June 19, where a formal announcement could be made concerning the incident.