The longest-tenured Ada County Highway District commissioner thinks her challenger played a dirty trick when he released postcards featuring a quote from a nearly year-old Idaho Statesman story.
Rebecca Arnold said she first saw David Eberle’s campaign postcard Friday. She said her constituents had seen the same mailer and interpreted the quote, alongside the Idaho Statesman logo, as an official endorsement by the newspaper’s editorial board.
Eberle said he wasn’t trying to make voters think that he had the Statesman’s endorsement.
The editorial board, made up of the Statesman’s publisher, editorial page editor and five community members, did not endorse any candidates in this year’s ACHD elections.
Eberle, a former Boise City councilman, lifted the quote for his mailer from a story that appeared Dec. 7, 2015, on the Idaho Statesman’s website. The topic of that story was Eberle’s announcement that he would run against Arnold for a seat on the district’s governing board.
The quote reads, “An Eberle victory would continue a transformation of the highway district’s commission.”
The story went on to explain that the transformation started with 2014’s elections, which put two new members on the commission.
Statesman Publisher Debra Leithauser said Eberle took the quote out of context.
“That quote was really not about him. It was about the board changing hands,” Leithauser said. “I just want to make sure the record’s clear that we did not endorse in this race.”
Arnold said Eberle’s use of the quote was “misleading.” She believes Eberle released the postcard close to Tuesday’s election so that the Statesman would have no time to respond.
“I think it was intentional, that he wanted people to think he had the Statesman’s endorsement,” she said. “Some people might view that as important. Some people might not.”
Eberle said deception wasn’t his aim.
“This was simply a quote from the paper that indicates what I intend to do: help transform the ACHD into a 21st century highway district that puts citizens first,” he said.