Jackson town officials have been deluged with angry emails and phone calls after the mayor decided to remove portraits of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from town hall last week. The flap has garnered national media attention and gone viral on social media. Town Councilman and Vice Mayor Jim Stanford says he’s sorry for the fallout, which includes visitors saying they will cancel trips to Jackson.
"I’ve apologized to a number of people for whom I’ve unwittingly created a headache, and I feel for folks who are having to field inquiries or threats of cancelation," Stanford said.
But Stanford says he still supports Mayor Pete Muldoon's decision because the town is supposed to be a non-partisan space and he hopes removing the images actually gives people a break from the divisiveness of federal politics.
"I think a lot of people come here for an escape from politics, and all the screaming and controversy and clashing," he said, "and both guests and the people, who live and work here, take a break from all of it in nature."
The Town of Jackson does not have a formal policy regarding whether or not to display such portraits, and town hall decor is up to the discretion of the mayor, according to Carl Pelletier, Jackson Public Information Officer.
“I think this is an effort on the mayor’s part to create a sense of nonpartisanship in our municipal buildings. It’s always been individual citizens from the Town of Jackson bringing those portraits in. We do not have a policy on what we can and we can’t hang nor do we have a federal mandate saying what is displayed in the town hall,” Pelletier said.
Pelletier said he believes citizens started bringing presidential portraits into display when Dick Cheney was elected Vice President because Cheney was a local resident.