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Silverton mayor suspends Pledge of Allegiance at town meetings

Shane Fuhrman cites ‘threats’ and ‘divisiveness’ as reasons, but gives no further explanation
The mayor of Silverton, Shane Fuhrman, suspended the Pledge of Allegiance during town meetings Monday. (Durango Herald file)

The mayor of Silverton suspended recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at town meetings Monday, saying the pledge has led to threats and community divisiveness.

“Due to direct and indirect threats, inappropriate comments in and out of public meetings, and the general divisiveness this is creating in our community, we will not be doing the Pledge of Allegiance during town of Silverton board of trustee meetings,” said Mayor Shane Fuhrman during Monday’s town board meeting. “And it’s removed from agendas and our protocols until such time that we can discuss this at a board retreat or workshop.”

Fuhrman did not respond to requests seeking comment, including what issues led to his action. Trustee Molly Barela objected to the mayor’s decision, which led to a testy exchange.

“Any other unilateral decisions we need to know about?” Barela asked upon hearing the mayor’s announcement.

Fuhrman responded: “If you’d like to find somewhere in the code that does not permit me to do this, I welcome that discussion at our next meeting.”

Barela responded: “It’s just been done for a long time. We all took an oath. And we, as the board, collectively decided it would be done.”

The mayor moved on, and opened the meeting to public comment. Near the end of the public comment period, an individual said she wanted to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

About nine attendees and two board members – Barela and Trustee Jim Harper – stood and joined in reciting the pledge.

After they were done, Fuhrman said the individuals were out of order and warned they would have to leave if there were any other disruptions.

Multiple town trustees, including Barela, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

It is not the first time the Pledge of Allegiance has caused division in Silverton, a town of about 550 people in the San Juan Mountains.

In 2018, a Silverton resident nearly faced charges of harassment and menacing for verbally attacking a former trustee member who did not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Since May 3, Fuhrman and another board member have remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to meeting videos posted online.

Monday night’s meeting was the first for Silverton’s newest town administrator, Gloria Kaasch-Buerger, who has worked as an association coordinator for the Colorado City and County Managers Association. Silverton’s sixth town administrator in seven years resigned in February.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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