Guest Opinions

A.J. Balukoff: I'm running for governor to make sure every Idahoan gets a fair shake

Idaho Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff greets football fans in September 2014 before a college football game in Boise.
Idaho Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff greets football fans in September 2014 before a college football game in Boise. AP file

I want to thank the Idaho Statesman editorial board for the kind words they said about me in last Friday’s editorial: “Several members of our editorial board argued that what Balukoff learned in the 2014 race and his knowledge of medical policy from his service on the St. Luke’s board, his experience in business and his extensive background in education make him the best choice for governor of Idaho.” 

I’m proud of that experience – it wasn’t easily earned.

Years ago, I suddenly found myself a single dad of five. I was working full-time at an accounting firm, and on Saturdays I would spend all day in the kitchen making casseroles with my kids — assembly line style. One casserole for every day of the coming week.

I was lucky. I had a stable job, health insurance and the ability to afford childcare. I soon met my wife, Susie, and her two kids, and we made Boise our home. But not everyone is so lucky. That’s why, since then, I’ve dedicated my life to making Idaho better for all our children and grandchildren.

It’s why I ran for the Boise School Board 21 years ago, to ensure Idaho’s children have the best education possible. It’s why I serve on the St. Luke’s Hospital Board, expanding and improving access to quality, affordable health care from Fruitland to Twin Falls.

And it’s why I’m running for governor – to make sure every Idahoan gets a fair shake.

We need to invest in Idaho’s future and in our education system. Idaho ranks 49th in the country in per-pupil spending, and our children are suffering as a result.

Our teachers, our students and our schools deserve our support.

My other priority is improving health care. I’m excited Medicaid expansion will be on the ballot in November, and I look forward to overseeing its implementation in Idaho, expanding health care access for thousands of Idahoans and saving countless lives.

I will also work with the Legislature to reduce costs and seek ways to improve health care outcomes for those who already have insurance. Being healthy should be affordable and easy – when I’m governor, nobody will have to choose between seeing a doctor and putting food on the table.

I appreciate the Statesman’s recognition of my success in business, and my work with non-profit and advocacy groups throughout Idaho. I’m honored that one of those groups, Conservation Voters for Idaho, has recognized my dedication to a clean environment and has endorsed my candidacy and vision for Idaho.

Susie and I chose Idaho in part because of its wild places. I’ve spent my life hiking, fishing, camping and hunting in Idaho’s great outdoors, and am devoted to protecting them. As governor, I will continue to work with groups like CVI to make sure public lands stay in public hands.

My vision for Idaho has also been endorsed by the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Idaho Mountain Express, the Twin Valley Times-News, 12 of the 17 Democrats currently serving in the Idaho Legislature and over 40 other current and former elected officials. But I am most proud of the support of countless Idahoans all over the state who have shared their stories and their hopes for the future with me. 

On May 15, I ask you to join that vision, and I ask for your vote in the Democratic primary.

A.J. Balukoff is running for governor in the May 15 Democratic primary.
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