A.J. Balukoff, the candidate for the Democratic Party for governor of Idaho, hosted a meet and greet in Idaho Falls, Idaho last Saturday.
Before running for governor, Balukoff said that he worked as a Certified Public Accountant for about 25 years.
Balukoff said he has done a lot of non-profit work throughout his life.
“I’ve served on a lot of non-profit boards of directors, including the Boise school board for 17 years, also the president’s leadership council at BYU-Idaho,” he said.
Balukoff said education is a significant factor that inspired him to run for governor.
“I have eight kids, and since they were all in the school system, my wife and I have always volunteered in the schools and participated in committees,” he said. “I think education is one of the most important things that our state does. I think it’s very important. That’s why I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in that area.”
Balukoff said he values education and was always involved with school programs at schools.
“Watching what our state has done to the public schools in Idaho — they’ve cut funding drastically and created greater disparity in school districts, and kids across Idaho are not getting the education that they should be getting,” he said.
Balukoff said he has traveled all across Idaho to promote his campaign, visiting with people and gros so they can meet him and ask any questions they have about him and his campaign.
He also said that he is a sporter of improving the economy and creating new and better-paying jobs.
“In Idaho, we have a very low-wage economy, and we’re No. 2 in the percentage of minimum wage jobs,” he said.“We’re 50th in median income and 48th for median income for men.”
Balukoff said half of Idahoans make less than $11.50 an hour and he would like to have the influence necessary to increase that number.
“We need a more open and transparent state government, one that listens to the people of Idaho,” he said.
Balukoff said he thinks BYU-I students should vote for him because he will show tangible progress.
Balukoff said he wants to improve the state of higher education across the state of Idaho.
“I know BYU-Idaho is a private school, but there are also lots of public colleges throughout the state, and tuition has been going substantially,” he said.
Balukoff said raised tuition makes obtaining higher education less accessible to more people.
“We need to find ways to make college more affordable,” Balukoff said. “We can find more scholarship funds, and sport the universities better with their funding so they’re not having to raise tuition so much.”
Balukoff got his accounting degree from Brigham Young University.
He said the values he learned while attending school there helped to mold his beliefs and values today, and that those values are passed on to his current political campaign.
Balukoff said the values that he was taught during his time at BYU are better reflected by those of the Democratic Party as opposed to the Republican Party.
Being a Mormon Democrat in a Republican state, Balukoff said people’s long-held perceptions of Democrats may not be correct.
“For example, there are many pro-life Democrats,” he said. “There are many Democrats that believe the Church’s position that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He said there are some issues that people automatically associate with the Democratic Party.
“Some people resent the Democrats for being pro-same-sex marriage, and that’s not necessarily true,” Balukoff said.
Balukoff said his advice for students at BYU-I is to work hard and study hard.
He said he encourages anyone that is 18 years old or older to register to vote.
He also said students should study the candidates and not rely on party affiliation alone.
Information on the candidates can be found at www.uselections.com.
Balukoff said he has qualities that make himself a good leader and friend to those he serves.
“I listen to people,” he said. “I’m inclusive. I bring people together to talk about the issues of the state and form the best solutions for the issues that challenge Idaho.”