- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Republican candidate for Idaho state schools chief said she’s running for office to repay the state for not voting in a general election since 1996.

Sherri Ybarra told a debate panel Wednesday that it wasn’t news when her voting record released earlier this week revealed a failure to vote in 15 of the past 17 elections, according to The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/1sMvF7l).

Ybarra’s voting record was first reported by Idaho Education News on Oct. 14, the day before the debate.

“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.

When asked if she felt she misled voters by downplaying her voting record in previous debates, Ybarra said she has taken full responsibility for her voting past since she announced her candidacy.

“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.”

Democratic challenger Jana Jones fired back that she has always voted in state elections and that Idaho’s state superintendent should not only focus on academics but also civic engagement.

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

Ybarra’s lack of voting participation includes failing to cast a ballot in elections for state superintendent of public instruction, governor and other offices. She also didn’t vote on the state’s 2006 school-funding tax shift and 2012 referendum to overturn the “Students Come First” reform laws.

Ybarra, who is running for office for the first time, is currently the federal programs director and curriculum director in the Mountain Home School District in Elmore County. Jones has served as the former chief deputy state superintendent and worked under three Idaho superintendents. They are both former classroom teachers.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com


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