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Wednesday, September 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye on Boise: Idaho Press publisher speaks out on enemy of Idaho: COVID-19

By Betsy Russell Idaho Press

BOISE – Multiple times over the past two weeks in the pages of the Idaho Press, a full-page ad placed by the newspaper’s publisher, Matt Davison, has urged the community to come together to defeat the coronavirus, rather than turning on one another over differing views.

“COVID-19 is our true enemy,” the ad says. “Only united will we defeat it!”

“This is me being very frustrated with our leadership and the things that I am hearing,” Davison told Eye on Boise, including calls from readers who “honestly believe” that those they disagree with are out to destroy the country. “My hope was that that message would be received with kind of an inspirational message that we have to pull together, regardless of what it looks like,” he said. “I’m not saying that I’m smart enough to solve this problem, but I can tell you, we’re not going to solve it in the divisive way that we are trying to solve it right now.”

The text in the ad, under the headline, said, “The time has come for the people of the Treasure Valley to unite toward the common goal of defeating COVID-19.

“All of us want to get back to normal. We want to watch high school football on Friday nights. We want to see our kids in school and our local restaurants full of customers. We want to go shopping downtown and catch a show later tonight. We want to get back to our ordinary, everyday Idaho lives.

“If we fail to come together as a community, this crisis could drag on for months or even years. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen. Let’s stop verbally attacking those who see things differently than we do. Let’s stop abusing local employees who are just trying to do their jobs. Let’s stop calling for boycotts of local businesses that are stuck in a no-win situation. Many of these businesses are fighting for their very survival. They need our support.

“Let’s work together to eradicate COVID-19 from Idaho.

“Let’s look for ways we can be part of the solution instead of standing in the way of someone else’s efforts.

“Let’s wear a mask and practice physical distancing when in businesses, and let’s make sure to wash our hands regularly.

“Let’s start supporting our leaders and hold them accountable for their decisions at the ballot box.

“TOGETHER we can beat this virus. TOGETHER we can do more. TOGETHER we can be better. UNITED WE MUST STAND!”

On Facebook, the ad so far has received more than 75 comments, ranging from “Thank you, IPT” to “The VIRUS is the MEDIA!” This comes as the Treasure Valley continues to see high rates of spread of COVID-19.

As of Friday, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Ada County had 2,440 COVID-19 infections per 100,000 population, and Canyon County had 3,296. Nationwide, the average is 1,935.

“I’ve gotten emails, ‘great message,’ ‘thanks for being a leader,’ all the positive stuff,” Davison said. “But the comments on social media to me just almost illustrate the point. … People are selecting the information that they want to believe, that’s most convenient for them, and I just don’t think that’s a safe place for us to be.”

Jordan challenges Risch to Senate debates

Paulette Jordan, the Democratic challenger to GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, has challenged the two-term senator to four town hall debates before Election Day.

“We received the letter this afternoon, and I have submitted it to the senator’s campaign committee for review,” said Risch campaign spokeswoman Rachel Burkett on Thursday.

Jordan said in a statement that she delivered a letter to Risch and his campaign Thursday, saying, “I am writing to respectfully request you join me for four town hall debates in October. We are facing an unprecedented existential crisis with respect to our physical and economic health as a consequence of the deadly spread of the coronavirus. Voters deserve to hear from us directly before choosing a vision for how we recover from it and restore our economy. Leadership cannot go unchecked, and voters must have the option to participate in our democratic process.”

Jordan said she and Risch thus far have a single debate scheduled on Oct. 13 via KTVB-TV.

The Idaho Debates, which are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters of Idaho, Idaho Public Television and Idaho universities, and air statewide on Idaho Public Television, also are in the works, with plans to air modified-format candidate debates in Idaho’s top races in October.

Jordan, in her letter to Risch, proposed four town hall-style debates in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, to be scheduled at the senator’s convenience.

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