JACKSON, Wyo. — On Tuesday the Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted to affirm Dr. Travis Riddell as the Teton District Health Officer. Riddell’s current term expires on Dec. 31. His new four-year term will begin on Jan. 1, 2022.
The Teton District Board of Health voted to appoint Riddell as District Health Officer on Nov. 16, the commission’s approval affirms the appointment.
The Commission voted 4-1 with Commissioner Greg Epstein apposed.
No other medical professionals in the community applied although the application was widely shared. “Under the law, it can be a medical doctor, it can be an advanced practice nurse or a physician’s assistant,” said Chief Deputy County Attorney Keith Gingery.
Commissioner Luther Propst spoke up in favor of appointing Riddell, “Dr. Riddell has been the Health Officer for almost 10 years,” Propst said. “He’s done a difficult job in a challenging time. I think he’s done it extremely well despite personal attacks on him. I think that the consequences of his leadership are clear with our death rate being considerably lower from COVID, as well as the work he provides on things unrelated to COVID.”
“I really value his commitment to public service,” Propst said.
Epstein voted against affirming Riddell, he said, “I feel like it’s time to have fresh blood in this seat of County Health Officer.”
“I feel like even though he said he’s following the science closely, there is other science out there from other news sources or other sciences that I don’t feel like is being necessarily heard or discussed.”
Riddell earned his MD and MPH in 2006 at Oregon Health and Science University and completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at Harvard Children’s Hospital. He studied at, Skyline College in San Bruno, California, Pitzer College in Kathmandu, Nepal and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
“I feel like it’s time to bring someone else in,” Epstein said.
“I appreciate Commissioner Epstein’s frustration. This has been a tough pandemic and everybody who is on the front line has taken their hits and Travis Riddell is no exception. I support this appointment with an appreciation for his medical services to the community.” Commissioner Mark Barron said.
“I’m grateful that he is willing to continue service knowing what is likely to be entailed in the near term,” Chair Natalia Macker said.
Propst moved the motion, it was seconded by Newcomb and carried 4-1 with Epstein apposed.
During the meeting Dr. Martin Trott was also affirmed as Deputy District Health Officer, motion carried 5-0.
Epstein has discussed the “other science” in previous meetings. During the Nov. 29 Board of County Commissioners meeting Epstein asked Riddell about “very recent studies regarding vitamin D.”
“I would love to know why we haven’t chosen to also talk about that,” Epstein said.
“I’m not familiar with that data off the top of my head,” Riddell said.
The current mask mandate, issued by the Board of County Commissioners, expires on Dec. 31.
Riddell was named 2021 “Citizen of the Year” by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and the 2020 “Business Person of the Year” by the Teton Board of Realtors.