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Ada County Commission Selects 'Outsider' Dr. Ryan Cole For Central District Board Of Health

A screenshot of an online meeting of the Ada County Board of Commissioners, with in-person and virtual attendees.
Meeting streamed by Ada County

Ada County Board of Commissioners Tuesday selected Dr. Ryan Cole for a seat on the board of Central District Health. He replaces Dr. Ted Epperley, who commissioners informed in June he would not be retained.

Cole has recently called COVID-19 vaccines "fake," "needle-rape," and "clot shot." Commissioners Beck and Davidson voted in favor of Cole, Kenyon voted against.

"I think it's a sad day when this body would go against our medical community," Kenyon said. She noted Cole's comments on vaccines "fly in the face of ethics" because his own family is vaccinated and his company, Cole Diagnostics, profits on the sale of COVID-19 testing.

Star Mayor Trevor Chadwick joined mayors of Eagle and Garden City in writing the commission in support of Dr. Cole.

"It's important to have a doctor on this board who is willing to question the reasoning to create more discovery," Chadwick wrote.

Those supporting Cole pointed to his non-mainstream opinions as important to the conversation.

"Masks, social distance, vaccine," said Commissioner Ryan Davidson. "Really that message hasn't changed and the vaccination rate has maxed out at approximately 60% in Idaho. Having another doctor bring the exact same message isn't exactly going to increase rates."

"The Central District Health Board last year," said Commission Chairman Rod Beck, "were given responsibilities that they'd never held before and they just didn't know how to handle it."

Beck noted the new law changing the role of district health boards to advisory, where any health department order impacting the broader community must come before County Commissioners for a confirming vote.

Beck called the process to select Cole "the most open and transparent" he's witnessed. "I don't know how much more transparent we can get," Beck said.

Public feedback sent to commissioners is posted on the county website.

Commissioner Kendra Kenyon, the lone democrat on the three-member Board of Commissioners, had floated a compromise choice of retired surgeon Dr. Stan Moss, with a caveat of consulting with Drs. Cole and Blue on major issues. Commissioner Davidson, who motioned to select Cole noted Kenyon's idea received little support from the public.

The appointment of Dr. Cole now goes before commissioners of Boise, Elmore and Valley counties for a confirming vote.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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