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Idaho candidate says she’s running to make up for failing to vote

BOISE – Republican candidate for Idaho state schools superintendent Sherri Ybarra said in a televised debate Wednesday night that she’s running for the office in part to “repay Idaho” for her own failure to vote in any Idaho general election since she moved to the state in 1996.

“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,” Ybarra said. “It will not happen again.”

Idaho Education News revealed Ybarra’s full voting record on Tuesday; she had earlier defended her failure to vote in the 2012 election in which Idaho overturned a controversial package of school laws by saying that everyone misses an election from time to time.

Democratic candidate Jana Jones said students should be prepared both academically and in “the importance of being engaged in their community and voting.”

“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,” she said. “I have always voted and always will continue to vote.”

Idaho Education News reported Tuesday that Ybarra skipped 15 of the last 17 state elections, and failed to vote in elections for state superintendent of schools, governor and other offices, the advisory vote on the state’s 2006 school funding tax shift and the 2012 referendum that overturned the “Students Come First” school reform laws championed by current Superintendent Tom Luna.

The two candidates also clashed on budget issues, during their debate that was broadcast live on Boise TV station KTVB from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa.

Asked if they support current Superintendent Tom Luna’s proposal for a 6.9 percent increase in funding for schools next year, Ybarra said, “Until I know exactly where every dime is going it makes no sense to ask for more.”

Surprised, moderator Dee Sarton asked if Ybarra was advocating for no increase for schools in next year’s budget. Ybarra then said she’s supporting Luna’s current budget.

“The budget that is already being prepared is the one that if elected I will actually take on,” Ybarra said. “It is a step in the right direction.”

Jones said Luna’s proposed budget targets only $10 million toward restoring cuts to school operational funding – the top priority of the governor’s education task force,

“No, it would not be the budget that I would be proposing,” she said. “We need to look at that budget very closely,” she said.

When Sarton asked Jones what percentage increase she’d favor, Jones said she was waiting to see the state revenue projections.

“We need to make sure that we take advantage of what resources the state has,” she said.

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