Wilson retires from teaching to focus on campaign

After winning her first election Tuesday, Cindy Wilson got up in the morning to do what she loves most — teach kids. She wasn’t going to miss today because it’s the last day for her seniors — and the beginning of the end to her 33-year teaching career.

Wilson announced Wednesday morning she’ll retire from teaching to focus solely on her bid to unseat Superintendent Sherri Ybarra in the November general election. Ybarra, seeking a second term, handily defeated challenger Jeff Dillon in the GOP primary.

“I’m a little emotional,” Wilson said after a long night of watching election results that ended with her victory over Allen Humble in the Democratic primary. “I love these kids with all my heart and they were so excited to have voted for the first time. I want to celebrate with them.”

Many of those seniors who Wilson will teach today voted for her yesterday, according to the hundreds of texts and Snapchat messages she received last night.

“I love my job so much and I love these kids will all of my heart,” she said as she drove to Capital High to teach government for the last time. “It’s a little tough on me right now, to know I won’t be teaching anymore, but this is a good thing.”

And immediately following the schoolday, Wilson’s campaign begins with an advisory committee meeting tonight. The committee will begin developing strategies to defeat Ybarra. Wilson said her committee contains both Democrats and Republicans alike, but she wasn’t prepared to name them.

“The status quo is not good enough anymore,” Wilson said. “I can’t do this by myself, but I can help facilitate these excellent ideas on how we move forward.”

Ybarra, on the other hand, said she will first perform her duties as superintendent and will campaign on weekends.

“It’s a balancing act, and it’s about being organized, but that’s what I do well,” Ybarra said.

Wilson has been following Idaho political campaigns since 1975 when she said she went to her county court house to watch election results be posted on a chalkboard. She was a page for the Idaho Legislature and she earned a degree in political science. This was her first experience as a candidate.

“It’s a whole different set of emotions,” said Wilson.

She was most pleased with her success in Clearwater County where she earned 95 percent of the vote. She grew up in Preston and has lived in Pierce, Weippe, Orofino, Shelley and now lives in Meridian.

“I know those people, I taught there for 24 years, they know me,” Wilson said. “That’s my biggest testimonial — is the people who know me voted for me. Our mission with the campaign is to meet people and let them get to know me. I want to get to know everyone in the state.”

Wilson said she can’t wait to hit every county fair and coffee shop in Idaho over the next five months.

She’s also looking forward to meeting with her former students and colleagues.

“So many of my 4,000 students have messaged me about how they can get involved,” Wilson said. “It’s really heartwarming.”

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Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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