BOISE -- Idaho voters now have their choice for who will head up the Department of Education when Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna steps down at the end of his term.

Those two choices are Jana Jones, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Sherri Ybarra, who beat out three other candidates in the Republican primary.

It will be an interesting race, said KTVB political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby.

With six months before the November election and a lot of interest when it comes to education in the state, KTVB spoke to both candidates about their upcoming campaigns.

Those who have been in the state for a while might remember Jana Jones from a previous race. She ran against Luna in 2006, falling short but getting 48 percent of the vote.

Her challenger, Sherri Ybarra, is relatively unknown but wowed a lot of people with how many votes she received considering how much money she spent on her campaign.

Ybarra won with 29 percent of the vote. The othe GOP candidates all ended up with just under a quarter of the vote.

Here are the unofficial numbers from Tuesday's GOP primary:

  • 29% Sherri Ybarra (38,325 votes) Winner
  • 24% Randy Jensen (32,623 votes)
  • 24% John Eynon (32,295 votes)
  • 23% Andrew Grover (30,460 votes)

I think the Democrats are really heartened by this result, running against whoever the victor was going to be, a relatively unknown individual, said Weatherby.

Unknown and didn't spend a lot of money. Ybarra raised and spent just under $3,000, the least amount of money raised by any candidate.

That represents my personality well in that money has no effect on my leadership ability and I think the state of Idaho has seen that already, said Ybarra.

Ybarra's website says she's focused on the Common Core, education funding and implementing her top three priorities from Governor Otter's Education Task Force recommendations; which are 21st century abilities, assessments and school safety and support.

When asked how she differs from her Democratic challenger Ybarra said this: This is about the future and so nothing from past am I going to bring forward into the future, so this is about a vision for the future, and that's how we are completely different.

Jana Jones, Ybarra's opponent, ran unopposed in the primary, yet raised the most of any of the candidates, bringing in more than $51,000.

Now she has a challenger for the November election. Here is her response to how she compares to her opponent.

I don't know enough about Sherri to say what her positions are because I haven't seen that much come out about what her positions are on specific things, said Jones.

Eight years ago Jones was the deputy chief superintendent under Marilyn Howard. She now wants back in that office.

The Department of Ed has always been a support and service agency that supports districts, parents, schools to really do what's best for Idaho's kids, and the last few years it's become more of a compliance agency, said Jones.

There is now less than six months to get to know the two candidates. There are a lot of issues that are important to these candidates and to the voters. We'll see this all play out leading up to November.

Read or Share this story: