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Critchfield tops incumbent, wins Republican race for Idaho schools superintendent

Sherri Ybarra will not return for a third term as superintendent. Debbie Critchfield will face Democratic candidate Terry Gilbert in the November election.

BOISE, Idaho — For KTVB's full election night footage, click here.

After two terms in office, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra will not be back in 2023.

Unofficial results from Tuesday's Idaho Republican Primary show Ybarra finishing third, and former Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield winning with 40% of the vote.

Former state legislator Branden Durst finished second in the primary, with 34%. Ybarra received 27% of the vote.

In a statement made after her victory, Critchfield said:

“It’s a great day for Idaho education and a great day for kids. I ran because Idaho deserves a strong education leader. Idahoans from every corner of our state believe it’s time for a change and responded to our message of putting kids first. And that includes supporting our teachers and listening to our parents. But our work is not done. We are excited to continue to travel the state and carry our message forward to all Idahoans until the November election."

Critchfield will face Democratic candidate Terry Gilbert in the general election set for November 8. Gilbert ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The superintendent leads the Idaho State Department of Education and oversees more than 800 public schools around Idaho. K-12 education makes up the largest share of the state's general fund spending -- about $3.4 billion for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. The superintendent is an ex officio member of the Idaho State Board of Education and a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners.

For full election results, click here.

Here is a brief look at the Republican candidates who were vying for their party's nomination Tuesday.

Who is Debbie Critchfield?

Credit: Debbie Critchfield

Debbie Critchfield served on the Idaho State Board of Education for seven years, and is a past president of the board. As a board member, Critchfield also served as chair of the Policy and Planning, Audit, and Instructional, Research and Student Affairs committees. At the local level, she served on the Cassia County school board for 10 years and has worked as the district's public information officer for the last nine years. Critchfield began her career in education as a substitute teacher, and also worked as a GED instructor with the College of Southern Idaho.

Critchfield is from Oakley. She and her husband, David, have four children and two grandchildren.

View Critchfield's campaign website here.

Who is Branden Durst?

Credit: Idaho Press
Branden Durst

Branden Durst was elected as state representative for the 18th District in Boise in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and state senator from the same district in 2012. He served in the Idaho Senate in 2013 before moving out of state. Durst ran for the Legislature as a Democrat, but has since affiliated with the Republican Party. Durst has been a small business owner, child custody mediator, community college instructor, curriculum developer, licensed pastor "and more," according to his statement on the Idaho GOP website.

Durst lives in Garden City, and describes himself as a Christian, husband, father of five and conservative. View Durst's campaign website here.

Who is Sherri Ybarra?

Credit: KTVB
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra

Ybarra was elected Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Before her election, Ybarra worked as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and federal program director in the Mountain Home School District. Ybarra earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from West Liberty State College in West Virginia, and has Master of Arts and Education Specialist degrees from the University of Idaho. She lives in Mountain Home with her husband. They have a son who's now attending the University of Idaho.

View Ybarra's campaign website here.

For a look at what's on the ballot statewide and in southern and central Idaho, and to see our other election-related stories, check out the KTVB Voter Guide.

Check in with KTVB for election coverage all day with live, local reports from the field and the studio, and be sure to join us for post-election coverage starting at 9 p.m., with a digital-only show here on KTVB.COM, the KTVB mobile app, and the KTVB YouTube channel, followed by an hour-long extended edition of the News at Ten on KTVB channel 7.1.

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