By Audrey Dutton, Idaho Capital Sun
Ada County Commissioners have decided not to renew the appointment of Dr. Ted Epperly to the Central District Health board.
“After 15 years of service to Central District Health, I was sent an e-mail saying … ‘Thank You For Your Service.’ An incredible example of politics becoming more important than public health knowledge and expertise,” Epperly told the Idaho Capital Sun via text message.
His term was set to end in 2021.
“I know what I had to say and did helped a lot of people and for that I am truly proud,” Epperly told the Idaho Capital Sun.
Term won’t be renewed
The Sun confirmed with the Ada County Commissioners‘ office Thursday that Epperly’s term will not be renewed when the commissioners fill the seat for the upcoming term.
Ada County posted a volunteer opening on its website, seeking candidates to apply from now until June 30. The position must be filled by another physician, according to a CDH spokesperson. Epperly is president and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho and a nationally recognized leader in family medicine and health care.
He called the commission’s decision not to renew his term “a clear indicator of the sign of the times we are in.”
Epperly’s home was targeted by protesters late last year as CDH considered COVID-19 public health measures, including mask mandates.
Former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo also served on the CDH board as Idaho responded to COVID-19. She and Epperly were typically aligned in favoring effective public health measures that could curb the spread of the coronavirus, as hospitals became overwhelmed with patients. Lachiondo’s home also was targeted by protesters.
Commissioners weigh in
Ryan Davidson, R-District 1, defeated the Democratic Lachiondo in the 2020 election. Davidson and Commissioner Rod Beck, R-District 2, chose former Republican Congressman Raúl Labrador to take Lachiondo’s former seat on the health board, favoring the attorney and lobbyist over Dr. Sky Blue, a local epidemiologist and hospital physician who applied for the board seat.
“I would have been very pleased to see Dr. Epperly stay on,” Commissioner Kendra Kenyon, D-District 3, told the Sun in an email.
Kenyon said that, “based on my fellow commissioners’ comments to Dr. Blue on their first day in office encouraging him to reapply (for the position), I am happy to present Dr. Blue as a candidate for the open position on CDH.”
Commissioners Beck and Davidson responded to Sun questions in emailed statements, giving differing reasons for their decision not to renew Epperly’s term.
“I believe all residents who have an interest in government should have the opportunity to serve. Dr. Epperly has been on the Central District Health Board since 2006 and we appreciate his service. I think the Central District Health Board would now be best served by someone with a different perspective who represents the community,” said Beck.
Davidson cited Epperly’s public health decisions during the pandemic as the reason for wanting a different board member.
“Now that the evidence is in, we can clearly see that government lockdowns and forced mask mandates had little effect on the overall course of the pandemic,” Davidson wrote. “Certainly nowhere near the level that would justify the shutting down of an economy and the suspension of individual liberties. Therefore, not only did Central District Health fail the greatest moral test of a generation, they also failed the scientific test, as none of the doomsday predictions ever came true. Since Dr. Epperly supported such restrictions as a member of the Central District Health board, I cannot in good conscience support his re-appointment.”
Epperly says he received word Wednesday that his term wouldn’t be renewed, via the email thanking him for his service.
But last month, during the Central District Health board’s May meeting, Labrador mentioned the end of Epperly’s term was coming. After another board member nominated Epperly to serve on an executive council, Labrador said, “I’m not sure that Ada County has reappointed him, so I’m just raising that as an issue.”
The board went ahead and voted him onto the executive council, with Labrador abstaining.
The CDH board’s next scheduled meeting is in August. The Ada County Commissioners meet daily; no meeting agendas have been posted beyond June 30.