John Mason statue

The fate of the statue of Captain John Mason on the facade of the state Capitol may rest with Republican Senate Leader Kevin Kelly. 

House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, is one of six legislative leaders who is telling his colleagues he wants the statue to stay, so all it would take is one more vote to leave it in place. 

A spokesman for Kelly said he has not made a decision. 

The 12-member state Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission was divided late last year about whether the statue should come down and be preserved in another location or stay on the building. Six of the 12 commission members voted to keep the statue on the building, educate and evaluate how statues get added, three voted to remove it, and three voted to do nothing.

Candelora also worries about the precedent allowing the six legislative leaders to decide its fate might have on the building. 

“The power to change the exterior of our state’s Capitol building should not reside in just six individuals and the rules and regulations that govern decisions about our Capitol reflect that sound policy,” Candelora wrote. 

The $79,000 contract for the removal of the statue was issued by Legislative Management on Sept. 2 and the 60 day period in which to object is expected to expire on Nov. 1. 

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who has pushed for the statue to be removed, said the contract is going through the proper process. She said if the legislative leaders remain silent on the issue then the contract to remove it will move forward. 

“Consequently, a contract for removing the statue is inappropriate in that it would not only contravene the clear decision of the Commission, but it would also directly violate the guidelines of the Commission. The Commission disapproves of the removal of the John Mason statue, and I therefore disapprove of spending funds to so,’’ Candelora wrote in a letter to legislative leaders. 

None of the other legislative leaders have weighed in on the issue, but have said there is a lot of uncertainty about how things should proceed.