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Retired Longtime Teacher and Principal Headed to Idaho State House After Strong GOP Victory

By Asher Lehrer-Small | November 4, 2020

(Julie Yamamoto for Idaho, Seat 10A/Facebook)

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

Republican Julie Yamamoto, a teacher and principal who recently retired after a 32-year career in education, won a commanding victory Tuesday over her Democratic opponent in a race for the Idaho state House.

While Yamamoto and challenger Rebecca Yamamoto Hanson diverged on issues such as whether to allow local-option sales taxes, they aligned on others, including the need to restructure education funding — Idaho currently relies on bi-annual supplemental levies — and for greater bipartisanship in upcoming legislative sessions.

Both candidates also happen to share the same last name and Japanese ancestry, but are not related.

Yamamoto, the sister of a local county clerk, was the only candidate in the southwest region of the state to defeat an incumbent candidate in the primary. She outpolled second-term Republican state Rep. Jarom Wagoner by 623 votes in the June primary.

The Idaho Elections Department called the general election contest Tuesday night, reporting Yamamoto with a 36-percentage point lead.

Idaho Elections Department

Schools will be a top priority for Yamamoto as she advances to the state House in Boise.

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“I believe all Idahoans want an economically vibrant state and education system,” she told the Idaho Press.

Yamamoto is one of the 25 former educators included in The 74’s roundup of ex-teachers positioned to win state-level seats this Election Day. Check out the full cohort here.

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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