The voting record story: what Ybarra had to say

On Wednesday night, Sherri Ybarra described serving in statewide office as a way of making up for her own spotty voter participation.

Earlier that day, the Idaho Democratic Party pointed to that voting record — calling it further evidence of Ybarra’s dishonesty.

Oct. 15 Supt Debate
Sherri Ybarra, left, and Jana Jones debate Wednesday night in Nampa.

Let’s sort this issue out a bit.

On Tuesday, our Clark Corbin broke the story that Ybarra had skipped at least 15 of 17 primary and general elections since moving to Mountain Home in 1996. According to Elmore County elections, Ybarra has never voted in a November general election. Her name will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot as the Republican state superintendent’s candidate.

Ybarra and Democratic candidate Jana Jones appeared Wednesday night in a debate aired on KTVB — and it was the first time Ybarra has addressed the new voting revelations publicly. (Here’s a link to our coverage from Wednesday night.)

Ybarra said Tuesday’s report was not “new news,” as she has already admitted to holes in her voting record. That’s not exactly the whole story. In April, Ybarra conceded that she had not voted in the November 2012 general election, when Idaho voters overwhelmingly rejected Propositions 1, 2 and 3, state superintendent Tom Luna’s controversial K-12 overhaul.

At that time, she said nothing to suggest she had missed other elections. At a City Club of Boise forum on Sept. 26, she seemed to again downplay the situation, asserting that everyone misses one or two elections at some point.

Idaho Education News decided to check and see the whole record for ourselves, because Jones had publicly accused Ybarra of never voting in a November election. Either way, it was a story that needed to be fleshed out, and reported. Hence Tuesday’s report.

On Wednesday night, Ybarra also said something new. She said that she saw running for state superintendent — a full-time elected post that will pay $102,667 in 2015 — as a way of making up for not participating in the political process. (Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review blogged at length about these comments Wednesday night; here’s a link.)

And here’s a link to the Democrats’ scathing news release, which describes Ybarra as a “dishonest politician” who is unfit to be the state’s top educator. Here are two more snippets.

“You’d think someone running for a public office would have an interest in what happens there. … Sherri Ybarra wants people to do something for her that she would never do for them: vote.”

Wednesday’s debate was the third time I’ve seen Ybarra and Jones go head-to-head. It was by far the most pointed debate of the three — and not only about Ybarra’s voting record. With a recent poll suggesting Ybarra holds a slight lead, you can expect both campaigns to turn up the volume in the final 19 days.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday