Only two candidates filed to run in this year’s special election for State Representative Position #2 in Washington’s 13th, a rural legislative district that spans most of Lincoln, Grant and Kittitas counties and includes cities like Ellensburg and Mattawa. One is a Republican and one is a Democrat.
The 13th is currently represented exclusively by Republicans, with State Senator Judy Warnick and State Representatives Tom Dent and Alex Ybarra.
Ybarra is in the incumbent in the seat that was vacated by Matt Manweller of Ellensburg after sexual assault allegations resurfaced against him in 2018.
Challenging Ybarra is Democrat Steve Verhey, who is contending for the State House with a campaign focused on fixing Washington’s upside down tax structure, widely regarded as one of the most regressive in the country.
Verhey currently serves as Chairman for the Kittitas County Democratic Party, Chair of the Environment and Climate Caucus of the Washington State Democratic Party and on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee.
Ybarra has a long history with the Grant County Public Utilities Department and has previously served as president of the Quincy School Board. He has also served on the board of the Washington State School Directors Association.
Although he was a freshman in the minority this past legislative session, Ybarra did sponsor a bill that was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.
House Bill 1621 gives colleges and universities more flexibility in admitting education applicants by changing basic skills assessment requirements for acceptance into teach preparatory programs.
“We need to encourage more people to choose this noble profession. Good teachers, just like students, should not be defined by a single test,” said Ybarra. “By removing this barrier a broader range of candidates can be admitted into these programs.”
As of 9:15 PM, Ybarra led with 62% of the vote (14,403 votes), and Verhey had 26% (6,097 votes). Both Ybarra and Verhey were guaranteed to move on to the November 5th general election; in this round, the race was a beauty contest.