Good news, the 13th District now has a full complement of 13th District representatives in Olympia.

On Monday the county commissioners from Kittitas, Grant, Lincoln and Yakima counties met and appointed Alex Ybarra of Quincy. Ian Elliot of Ellensburg and Danny Stone of Lincoln County were also under consideration.

Since the Legislature began on Monday, Ybarra will need to hit the ground running.

Ybarra is filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Matt Manweller, who was elected in November but had previously announced he would not serve if elected. Manweller’s tribulations have been well documented.

Obviously, Ybarra did not go through the campaign process but his resume looks promising. One thing that stands out is his experience as a school board member in Quincy.

While there might be a temptation for legislators to hoist the “Mission Accomplished” banner in regard to full funding K-12 education, the reality is there is still work to be done.

School districts in Kittitas County, and across the state, have raised alarms that the funding formula needs adjustment otherwise many school districts will find themselves coming up short when it comes to financing basic education in their communities.

The first step is for legislators to understand the school funding formula needs to be revisited and then work with school officials across the state to correct the flaws. Coming from a rural, Eastern Washington area, Ybarra will be able to add the views and experiences of the smaller school districts.

Another interesting element on his resume is his professional background. Ybarra currently works as the energy-reliance compliance officer with Grant County PUD, and he was previous and engineer and scientist with the Rocket Research Company in Redmond. Someone with a technical and scientific background with experience in the energy sector should be huge plus in Olympia.

Ybarra is new to the office, but he has been involved with state-level issues, serving as a board director for the Washington State School Board Association and as an appointed commissioner on the Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

In short, Ybarra looks good on paper. But politics is a people business — both with voters across the expanse of the 13th District and with his colleagues in Olympia.

Over the next weeks and months we’ll get to see Ybarra in action and hopefully get a better chance to know him and for him to meet more people from Kittitas County.

We wish him the best of luck as he represents this county and district in Olympia.


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