Superintendent’s race: Ybarra, Wilson win primaries

East Idaho Elects

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Sherri Ybarra

BOISE — Incumbent state superintendent Sherri Ybarra and Capital High School teacher Cindy Wilson won their respective primaries Tuesday, according to a projection by the Associated Press.

With 58 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Ybarra led the way in the Republican primary with 60 percent of the vote. Wilder superintendent Jeff Dillon claimed 40 percent.

In the Democratic primary, Wilson opened a wide lead over Boise retiree Allen Humble, claiming 87 percent of the votes.

The AP called the races at about 11 p.m.

Throughout the campaign, Ybarra called on voters to preserve stability in the State Department of Education. She touted the Legislature’s investment of more than $100 million in new spending during each year of her first term, an investment that allowed the state to raise educators’ salaries through the career ladder salary law.

Looking ahead to a potential second term, Ybarra has said she would pursue a $20 million school safety initiative and continue to ramp up her anti-bullying initiative.

Dillon, meanwhile, called for change. He said the state’s public schools weren’t performing well enough and weren’t graduating enough of students. He pledged to increase the state’s graduation rate to 90 percent. Dillon said the state needs to look closer at education data to drive policy decisions. He also promised to bring education groups, teachers, parents, business leaders, taxpayers and policymakers to the same table to draw up five- and 10-year plans for education.

Although Wilson entered the race relatively late, she managed to raise more in campaign contributions than the other three candidates combined.

She built her campaign around promises to increase literacy rates by third grade, invest in preschool and early childhood education and improve teacher retention through additional raises in teacher pay.

It wasn’t surprising that Wilson opened a large early lead over Humble.

Humble pushed for preschool as well. He said school funding was inadequate and he decried the proliferation of voter-approved levies in more than 90 school districts across the state. But Humble ran a modest, quiet and largely self-financed campaign. Organizers of the Idaho Debates canceled the Democratic superintendent debate because Humble could not prove he was running an active campaign.

Ybarra and Willson will meet in the Nov. 5 general election.