Alex Ybarra recounts his first term serving in Olympia

Republican Alex Ybarra is running unopposed for the 13th district state House seat .

House Republicans Official Website

Republican Alex Ybarra is running unopposed for the 13th district state House seat .

Jessica Perez, Staff Reporter

Alex Ybarra is a Republican who has been representing the 13th district for two years. 

Now that his term is ending, he is seeking re-election and is running unopposed. 

The 13th district is one of 49 districts in Washington which represents the people in the state legislature. 

This district includes most of Kittitas, Yakima, Lincoln and Grant counties. Ybarra specifically represents these counties in the House.

Ybarra learned many things in Olympia during his first year, including the process for passing a bill through the system. 

Ybarra said he learned “the pitfalls of being a minority party, because we don’t get a lot of bills passed because we don’t have the votes to pass them.”

During his second year, Ybarra said he learned more about bills specifically. 

He said the state legislature runs through about 2,000 to 3,000 bills in a three-month session. 

“That’s a lot of bills,” Ybarra said. “You can’t be an expert in every single one, but you can learn about many of them.”

Before Ybarra worked in the state legislature, he spent time working for the Quincy school board. 

On the board, he served as the past president, vice president and as a legislative representative. 

According to Ybarra, his background working for the school board helped prepare him for working in the state legislature. 

“In the legislature they’re really structured and you have to follow the parliamentary procedures there, so [working on the school board] really helped me learn how to go through procedures like we do in the legislature,” Ybarra said. 

Ybarra also worked for Grant County’s Public Utility District (GCPUD). 

He said the experience he gained from working there has come in handy in the legislature as well.

“I’m the energy guy, so I could weigh into a lot of energy issues that come across my desk, so that really was very helpful and still is,” Ybarra said. “To this day, I’m asked to be in a lot of energy committees to help and support those final decisions.”

Ybarra said cities like Seattle create a lot of carbon, and because of that, they want to switch to renewable energy in the form of wind, solar or nuclear. 

According to Ybarra, those forms of energy cost 10 times more than a hydro dam. 

It would be a higher cost to construct and for consumers as well. 

Ybarra also supports tax relief and limited government.

“They are one in the same. Less taxes means we are going to hire less state employees. We have to do things better and more efficiently, meaning cheaper,” Ybarra said. 

When it comes to education, Ybarra wants to make sure students are “graduation and career ready.” 

According to Ybarra, 20 or 30 years ago, most people believed they should get a four-year degree and then find a job. 

Now, he said, not everyone wants to go get a four year degree. 

Some people are happy completing an apprenticeship in a field they enjoy.

“We need to open up those pathways for kids to do what they want to do,” Ybarra said. “No job is worse than another job. In the education committee we just want to make sure those pathways are open.”

Ybarra said a recent bill that passed that helped accomplish this was the Pathways Bill (HB 1599). 

This bill allows students to choose from eight pathways they want to take. 

Ybarra said there is a minimum amount of credits students must take and pass, and then they can choose to take electives relating to a field they are interested in.

Ybarra also feels strongly about forest management. 

He said $61 million were requested last year to help maintain forests and make them healthy. 

He said this money would be very helpful to help clean up the forests and reduce the amount of things that burn. 

“The forests have been neglected probably since the [1970s], so there’s not been a lot of forest management, which in my opinion, is why we are seeing a lot of these forest fires,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra said he would leave it up to the experts on how to best approach maintaining the forests, as it could be done in many ways.

In order to connect with college voters, Ybarra said he spends a lot of time talking with college students. 

He said he gets many calls from students and he also speaks with groups of students who lobby for bills in Olympia. 

“We’ll work together on trying to get those bills passed,” Ybarra said. “I gave them some advice on who to talk to in the legislature to get the bill passed through the system because I am just one vote out of many,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra said one of the things he is most proud of is listening to his constituents, the people he represents.   

“Whatever my constituents in Kittitas County, Yakima County, Grant County and Lincoln County want, that’s what I vote for,” Ybarra said. “They’re the ones who elected me to vote for them, so that’s what I try to do.”

Another thing Ybarra said he is proud of is being the second Latino Republican ever elected to the House, and being the only Republican person of color in the House.

However, Ybarra said he is treated differently because of his skin color. 

“I’m treated terribly,” Ybarra said. “I get treated badly because I’m a person of color and most of the other people of color, that are representatives, think I should be voting very liberally and I am not liberal. I am conservative. Because I vote conservatively, they think I am eroding their message.”

Ybarra said he also gets called names by people on Facebook and sometimes in person for being a person of color and voting conservatively. 

Ybarra said most of the people who call him names are other people of color in the legislature. 

“Back in the [1970s], yeah, it was white people calling me names. Now it’s people of color calling me names,” Ybarra said. “I believe what I believe and that’s why I got elected to my position in district 13, and I don’t want to change what I believe and I’m not about to because people are calling me names. I’ve been called names before. You just have to deal with it. That’s part of being a Mexican-American. You just get called names.”

Ybarra said it’s strange, but he puts up with it because he put himself in the position to be called names by running to be an elected official. 

Ybarra said being Mexican-American has allowed him to bring a different perspective to the legislature.

“If you’re not that race, people don’t actually know what you think and how you do things and why things sometimes don’t make sense in your culture,” Ybarra said. “I know a lot of people that don’t know much about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and so when they say things, I tend to say Mexican-Americans think this way, not what you’re stating.” 

However, Ybarra said he tries to do what’s best for all, not just his culture. 

“All humans are like that, we just want what’s best for our kids and everyone else, so I try to do that,” Ybarra said.