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Ripon's history converges with modern political climate in water tower slogan debate

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 09:56:46-05

RIPON (NBC 26) — Ripon’s history is converging with the current political climate in a debate about its water tower.

  • When Ripon's water tower is repainted, some want it to feature the slogan "Birthplace of the Republican Party" to honor Ripon's history.
  • Others view this slogan as divisive in light of current political divisions.
  • Video shows details on the debate.

(The following is a transcript of the full broadcast story.)

I'm your Fond du Lac County neighborhood reporter Margaret Cahill and I spoke with people who live here about both sides of the debate.

The City of Ripon is known as “the birthplace of the Republican Party.”

As I've previously reported,the “Little White Schoolhouse in Ripon” is known for a meeting in 1854, where local leaders gathered in a schoolhouse to protest the expansion of slavery and left as a new political party: the Republican Party.

It’s a source of pride for many in the city, and when the city announced it would be repainting its water tower, some wanted it to feature the slogan "Birthplace of the Republican Party.” They felt this would be a good way to showcase Ripon's history, while others say it could be divisive in the current political climate and could exclude others.

I talked to several people who live here and told me their opinions off camera, but none of them wanted to go on camera.

At a recent city council meeting, a motion to include the slogan on just one side of the party passed by a vote of 5-3, but was vetoed by Mayor Theodore Grant.

The city council met Monday to vote on whether to overturn the veto. They voted 7-1 to not overturn the mayor's veto.