GROTON -- Selectman Josh Degen makes no bones about his dislike for President Donald Trump and his administration's polices.
But some question whether a photo of Degen taken while he vacationed in Washington, D.C., recently may have gone a bit too far.
In the photo, Degen is shown standing across the street from the White House grounds, in a park-like space where children can be seen riding bicycles. Degen looks at the camera and makes an obscene gesture with his middle finger directed toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Degen posted the photo on his Facebook page with the caption: "Let me show you how I feel about our A hole president."
A blurred copy of the photo was sent to this newspaper from an anonymous source.
When contacted, Degen verified the authenticity of the photo and his remarks, then willingly sent a clear image of the photo to a reporter and agreed to be interviewed.
On Monday, a reporter walked along Main Street with a copy of the photo and asked people about their reaction to it. While most expressed dismay over Degen's posting, all declined to go on record with their names.
Some said they supported Degen and others said they were Trump fans.
"Teachers have been fired for a lot less than that," said one person.
Another said, "If I did that I'd be fired, even on my personal social media page."
Degen defended his Facebook posting, saying the photo and caption represent his personal views and in no way impugn his ability to function as an elected official.
"When national policies trickle down to small towns like Groton, that's when I express my views," said Degen.
He cited the president's insistence that local police forces be tasked to enforce federal immigration policy by collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Degen, who has served as selectman for 12 years, said that he has received far more praise than scorn for his posting.
Andrew Brandt of Pepperell, who said he has family in Groton, was the lone person surveyed who spoke openly of Degen's posting.
"To me it shows a lack of respect for the office," Brandt said. "But I don't think it will affect anything going on in town meetings or decisions."
A local political website, Rabid Republican Blog, questioned Degen's judgment in a public exchange of less-than-amicable viewpoints from both sides. The blog's original posting was headlined by the question: "Who paid for your trip Josh Degen?"
Degen weighed in with the reply, "I paid for my trip myself."
Degen, who has rarely shied away from controversial issues or speaking his mind, told a reporter, "These are my private views. If people disagree strongly, then they will let me know at voting time."