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ICYMI: Seacoast Online: Editorial: Time to hang Dudley Dudley portrait at State House

Concord, N.H. - For over a year, Governor Sununu has refused to hang up a portrait honoring Dudley Dudley as the first woman Executive Councilor in New Hampshire history, this despite repeated requests from Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. In winning her seat as Executive Councilor, Dudley defeated Chris Sununu's father John H. Sununu. NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement: "Governor Sununu is choosing to fight old family grudges instead of honoring New Hampshire's historic women by refusing to hang Dudley Dudley's portrait in the State House. This same pettiness led Sununu to place a tree in front of Senator Shaheen's portrait, blocking the likeness of New Hampshire's first female governor-turned-Senator. Shaheen defeated Sununu's brother, John E. Sununu, en route to a US Senate seat. Dudley is a pioneer for women in politics in New Hampshire and her contributions deserve recognition without any partisan politics or childish stunts." Seacoast Online: Opinion: Time to hang Dudley portrait at State House There’s a nasty, petty game going on at the New Hampshire State House that must end. A portrait of Dudley Dudley of Durham, the first woman to serve on the New Hampshire Executive Council, is languishing. The idea for a portrait of the now-81-year-old Dudley was conceived in 2016 when N.H. Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley and Hampton state Rep. Renny Cushing, who is member of the portrait committee, invited Dudley for lunch. After that meeting, Portsmouth artist Alastair Dacey of Portsmouth was commissioned to paint the portrait, which was unveiled at the State House in December of 2016. Sadly, that’s as far as it went. Since that time, the portrait has been sitting in limbo, denied its rightful place on the wall in the Executive Council chamber. District 2 Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, a Democrat, has recently been questioning why Dudley’s portrait has not been hung. We wholeheartedly agree with his inquiry. As Volinsky correctly points out, Dudley’s portrait truly deserves a place of honor inside the State House for no other reason than the fact that she broke the gender barrier in state government. Dudley’s feat may seem like ancient history today when we have had high profile females in the highest government posts in New Hampshire — Democrats Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan served as governor and are now sitting U.S. senators; Republican Kelly Ayotte served as N.H. attorney general and in the U.S. Senate; and Democrat Carol Shea Porter served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their successes all had to start somewhere in the Granite State and it all began with Dudley. For that alone, she deserves to be honored with a portrait at the State House. Volinsky said the portraits on the walls of Executive Council chambers are all men, not a single woman in sight. “They’re all old white guys. They’re all dated portraits. A lot of them are wearing wigs,” Volinsky said. And, as Dudley herself pointed out, the walls at the State House are lined with the portraits of more than 100 men and just 6 women. We say, why can’t she become number 7? Why indeed? Dudley said she hopes the kerfuffle about her portrait is resolved so that schoolgirls touring the State House can see a woman’s picture on the walls. We hope so, too, because breaking the state government gender barrier isn’t her only claim to fame. In case New Hampshire has forgotten, there is so much more to Dudley’s resume. If not for Dudley Dudley and some other cantankerous and gutsy people, New Hampshire’s small, but treasured coastline would look markedly different today. In 1974, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, husband of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, wanted to build a big oil refinery along the pristine shores of Great Bay in Durham. Dudley, on behalf of a citizens group called Save Our Shores, stood up to Onassis and took a citizen petition opposing the refinery to the N.H. State House. Eventually, Dudley proposed home rule legislation giving Durham the right to say no to Onassis, which it did in resounding fashion... Why this woman can’t have her portrait hung in the State House is beyond ridiculous. She’s broken barriers, battled giants and devoted her life to doing good works. Answers as to why Dudley’s portrait hasn’t been hung remain elusive. Gov. Chris Sununu directed Volinsky to check with the Division of Cultural Affairs who pointed to the Attorney General’s Office, which pointed back to the Executive Council. It was one big circle of nothingness. It seems clear to us that Dudley’s portrait is still languishing because she’s a Democrat and the Democrats aren’t in power right now. The Dudley portrait debacle reminds us of what happened with a portrait of former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a fellow Democrat and sitting U.S. senator who was the first women ever elected governor in the Granite State. Sometime after Sununu took office, Shaheen’s portrait in the reception area outside the governor’s office was blocked by a large, bushy potted tree. After complaints were lodged, the tree found a new home, but the incident did not seem like an accident or mistake — perhaps, more a case of pettiness. Such partisanship spreads bitterness and prevents elected officials from working together. We call on Gov. Sununu and the Executive Council to hang Dudley’s portrait as soon as possible and to hold a fitting ceremony in her honor. That’s how you rise above the divisions of party and politics.


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