Chuck Shackett is crossing party lines in the state superintendent’s race because he knows Democratic nominee Jana Jones.
And because he still hasn’t met his party’s nominee, Mountain Home Republican Sherri Ybarra.
“I trust Jana completely,” Shackett said Tuesday, hours after he was honored as the Idaho Association of School Administrators’ superintendent of the year.
On Monday, Shackett threw his support behind Jones, the former deputy state superintendent making her second bid for the elected post.
On one level, familiarity played a factor in Shackett’s pick. Jones lives in Idaho Falls. After she left the State Department of Education, Shackett says he tried to hire Jones to head the Bonneville School District’s special education programs.
But Shackett also doesn’t hide his disappointment in Ybarra, who snubbed the IASA’s invitation to take part in a question-and-answer session. Jones appeared Monday before an audience of school administrators from across the state.
The political subtext is worth noting.
Shackett publicly endorsed Propositions 1, 2 and 3, outgoing state superintendent Tom Luna’s education overhaul laws. This spring, he was one of 18 district superintendents to endorse Melba Superintendent Andy Grover in the GOP primary.
Shackett is well aware of his own track record. In November 2012, Idaho voters resoundingly rejected Props 1, 2 and 3. Grover, the lone GOP candidate to back the propositions, finished last in the four-way May superintendent’s primary.
“Maybe I shouldn’t endorse anything,” Shackett said with a laugh.