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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Ybarra says she’s running for state schools chief in part to ‘repay Idaho’ for her failure to vote in any general elections since 1996

Republican candidate for state schools superintendent had a surprising answer tonight to the question as to why she’s passed on voting in 15 of the last 17 state elections, and has never cast a ballot in any state general election since she moved to Idaho in 1996, including elections for state superintendent of schools, governor and other offices, the advisory vote on the 2006 school funding tax shift and the 2012 referendum that overturned the "Students Come First" school reform laws championed by current Superintendent Tom Luna.

“It’s not new news that I’ve been sporadic with my voting history. We as Republicans accept responsibility for our past, and in moving forward we understand that our past should never dictate our future,” Ybarra said. “And I’m so glad you asked me that because that is one of the reasons that I’m here tonight. It is easy to complain about the past and get complacent. It is harder to step forward and say you know what, that’s why I’m here, because I have not been very good at my civic duties and I want to repay Idaho. … It will not happen again.”

When panelist Jim Weatherby asked Ybarra if she misled the audience at the earlier City Club of Boise debate when she explained away her failure to vote in the 2012 election on the school referendum by saying everyone misses an election now and then, Ybarra said, “It is not new news. I have put that out there from Day 1 and I again … accept full responsibility for that. That is the reason that I am here for you today. I want to repay Idaho, and do exactly what the people of Idaho are asking for. And I know under my leadership that I can build an excellent education system for Idaho schools.”

Democrat Jana Jones said, “I think it’s really important that when we look at leadership and how we define leadership, we look at people that are also role models for what we want our public and our students to be able to do.” Students should be “well-prepared academically,” but also in civics, she said, and “know the importance of being engaged in their community and voting. ... I think as a superintendent, it’s important from that leadership all the way down through that you have someone who knows the importance of that civic duty. ... I have always voted and always will continue to vote.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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