Opinion: Potted Tree Blocking Portrait Of NH’s First Woman Governor Is ‘Petty, Childish’

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Judy Reardon photo

A potted tree blocks Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's portrait in the reception area of Gov. Chris Sununu's office at the State House in Concord.

Judy Reardon was legal counsel to Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and was her legal counsel in her U.S. Senate office for six years. Reardon chaired the committee that commissioned Shaheen’s gubernatorial portrait. She now consults for Protect the Granite State.  InDepthNH.org emailed Gov. Sununu seeking his comments, but he didn’t immediately respond.

Judy Reardon

By Judy Reardon

About a month ago a friend told me that New Hampshire’s current governor, Chris Sununu, had completely blocked the view of Jeanne Shaheen’s portrait.

I figured my friend was exaggerating, so when I was in Concord last Friday I went to check it out for myself. As you can see in the photo I’ve posted, her portrait is indeed completely obstructed by a potted tree.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s official portrait when she was New Hampshire’s first woman governor.

Regardless of how one feels about Jeanne Shaheen politically or personally, she is a historic figure. She was the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire. She was the first woman in American history to be elected a governor and a U.S. senator.

How petty and childish of Gov. Sununu to obstruct the view of her portrait.

Lest you think this was just an oversight by Gov. Sununu, it was not. While I was there last Friday I spoke with his chief of staff, Jayne Millerick.

“Jayne, you’re completely blocking Jeanne Shaheen’s portrait. You need to fix that,” I said.

“The tree can only be in that spot,” Ms. Millerick responded.

Rather than question her interior design sense, I said, “Okay. But her portrait doesn’t have to be hung on that panel. It’s the only portrait of a female governor. The other six portraits are all of men. Why is hers the one that’s got to be blocked by the tree?”

Ms. Millerick paused and said, “They’re hung in chronological order.”

“No, they’re not. Hers is the second most recent portrait. After Craig Benson, hers is the most recent,” I pointed out.

By tradition, the portraits of the most recent governors are hung in the reception area of the governor’s office. That means right now it’s the portraits of Craig Benson (2003-2005), Jeanne Shaheen (1997-2003), Steve Merrill (1993-1997), Judd Gregg (1989-1993), John H. Sununu (1983-1989), Hugh Gallen (1979-1983), and Mel Thomson (1973-1979). As I noted earlier, it’s Jeanne Shaheen and six men.

On my way out I said, “Jayne, you really need to take care of this.”

Well, it’s one week later and the potted tree is still completely blocking the view of Jeanne Shaheen’s portrait. Having worked in the governor’s office for six years, I assure you this could have been taken care of the day I complained. But I figured I’d give them a week before going public. After all, I knew they were busy this week establishing a committee to study a public boat launch that’s been studied for the last 20 years and issuing an executive order creating a Millennial Advisory Committee.

I don’t know if the motivation for this pettiness was the fact Jeanne Shaheen defeated John E. Sununu in the 2008 senate election or if Chris Sununu is planning on challenging her in 2020 or if they simply don’t like portraits of women.

But it’s petty and childish.

Since you won’t be able to see Jeanne Shaheen’s portrait at the State House while Chris Sununu is governor, I’m posting a photo of her portrait taken about a month before NH artist Stoney Jacobs finished it.

It’s kind of nice, isn’t it? The fourth graders who all tour the State House should get to see this portrait of the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire, don’t you think?

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