Jeff Dillon, the Wilder School District superintendent and the first candidate to file to challenge state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra in 2018, told Idaho EdNews today that he’s running for the state post to help create a “climate of possibility.” Dillon, a Republican, filed his preliminary paperwork for the run with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office on Friday; Ybarra, also a Republican, announced in 2015 that she’d seek a second four-year term in 2018.
Dillon told EdNews reporter Kevin Richert that first, he needs to raise money and elevate his statewide profile as he challenges a sitting incumbent, and that’s why he filed the initial paperwork, which allows him to begin raising campaign funds. “For me it’s a lot about name recognition,” Dillon said. “People don’t know who I am.”
Dillon, 51, is a Wilder native who has worked for his hometown school district for 10 years, Richert writes. Dillon has been superintendent since December 2012, and like many rural superintendents, he performs multiple roles. He doubles as principal of the elementary school.
As superintendent in Wilder, Dillon heads a district wrestling with unique demographic and economic challenges, Richert reports. Wilder has one of the state’s highest poverty rates, and has sometimes struggled to pass supplemental property tax levies to bolster funding. Under his watch, Dillon has worked with Apple to equip Wilder’s students with iPads — a one-to-one technology initiative that has drawn the notice of Gov. Butch Otter and other Idaho Republicans.
Dillon declined to comment on Ybarra’s record in office. “I want to focus on what I can bring to the table,” he said. You can read Richert’s full report here.