Posts tagged: Randy Jensen
Unsuccessful GOP state school superintendent hopeful Randy Jensen, who placed second in the four-way GOP primary, falling to Sherri Ybarra, says he never authorized Ybarra to list him as a member of her campaign team, nor has he endorsed either candidate in the general-election race between Ybarra and Democrat Jana Jones. Clark Corbin, reporter for Idaho Education News, reports today that Ybarra had Jensen listed as part of her five-member “campaign committee” on her website.
Jensen told Corbin, “I never intended my name to be on anyone’s website or endorsement list. I told Jones the same thing.” Corbin reports that Jensen said he talked with Ybarra and she agreed to remove his name from her website; however, as of mid-day today, it remained listed there under “Meet the Sherri Ybarra Campaign Team.” You can read Corbin’s full report here.
Two of the four Republican candidates for state superintendent of schools didn’t cast votes in the state’s first closed GOP primary two years ago, Idaho Education News reports, and one of the four – Sherri Ybarra – didn’t vote in the 2012 general election in which Idaho voters resoundingly rejected the controversial “Students Come First” school reform laws.
Idaho EdNews reports that Ybarra voted only on the unaffiliated ballot in the 2012 primary, and Jensen didn’t vote at all in that primary, despite a long voting history; he told the news outlet he sat that one out because he didn’t support the idea of closing the primary. “I just think everyone should have an opportunity to vote in the primary election,” Jensen told Idaho Education News today. While he describes himself as politically conservative, Jensen says he avoided aligning with a party for years, in part because his wife has served for 23 years on the American Falls City Council, a nonpartisan post. “We have just always remained nonpartisan in our political endeavors.”
Ybarra offered no explanation for her failure to vote in the 2012 general election, telling Idaho EdNews in an emailed statement, “I am a Republican, with Republican values, since my childhood. The state superintendent of public Instruction serves all students, all parents, and all stakeholders, regardless of when a box is ‘checked.’ Ronald Reagan explained it best: ‘Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.’” You can read the full report here, from reporters Jennifer Swindell, Kevin Richert and Clark Corbin.
Randy Jensen, a middle school principal from American Falls and one of the four Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for state schools superintendent, has a rather unusual campaign message for folks on this day-before-tax-day: Don’t donate to my campaign, donate to your local schools instead. “Hopefully people will look at this and say, ‘This is the kind of superintendent we’d like, one that wants to put money toward kids and not spend money on campaign stuff,” Jensen said.
He’s not turning away all campaign donations. “If somebody sends me a check, I’m not going to rip it up,” he said. But he’s decided he doesn’t need a lot of campaign funding, and will be reaching out to voters personally and electronically, while encouraging potential donors to take into account Idaho’s generous tax credit for donations to schools.
“In Idaho, if you donate $500, you immediately get a $250 tax credit,” Jensen said. “So that means the most you can pay is $250. But then if you itemize, you save about $160, depending on your tax bracket. So it costs you just about $90.” Jensen said schools can end up with more than five times as much money if people donate to them instead of candidates. “If I wanted to send a mailer out to the 100,000 people that voted in the last three Republican primaries, that mailer would cost $30,000,” he said. “I would rather have $150,000 go to schools.”
Jensen said he’s meeting this afternoon with four major corporations in his area, and he’s hoping to talk each of them into, instead of donating $1,000 to his campaign, donating $5,000 to schools. “I could generate $4,000 for my election – hopefully instead I can generate $20,000 for a program at a school,” he said. Jensen said even if he doesn’t win his race, his purpose is to help schools. “What most people don’t realize is they can donate $500 to a school and their out-of-pocket expense is typically going to be less than $100.”
He faces John Eynon, Andy Grover, and Sherri Ybarra in the May GOP primary; the victor will face Democrat Jana Jones in November.
Randy Jensen formally announced his candidacy for state Superintendent of Schools today as a Republican; from the state Capitol steps, the longtime middle school principal and former Fulbright scholar said, “I will make decisions based solely on what’s best for kids in Idaho. … Now is the time to have a proven educational leader lead our schools.”
The race is getting crowded; also this week, Cottonwood teacher John Eynon, an outspoken opponent of Common Core standards for student achievement, announced his candidacy in the GOP race. Jana Jones, a Democrat whom current GOP Superintendent Tom Luna narrowly defeated in 2006, is running again. Luna himself hasn’t yet announced whether he’ll seek a third term.
Jensen, 52, has been the principal at William Thomas Middle School for 25 years, after starting there as a teacher. “After 29 years … I still love kids as much as I did the first day,” he said. He introduced one of his former 5th grade students who’s now a Boise dentist.
Jensen holds a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in education from Idaho State University and certification to serve as a school district superintendent. Asked the main thing he’d like to accomplish if elected, he said, “I want the state Department of Education to be a service organization, where we really work closely with local school districts to make them the best they can be. Great schools are not created by federal or state mandates. Great schools are created at the local level.”