Boise School Board Chairman and businessman A.J. Balukoff is expected to announce Tuesday he's running for governor of Idaho. The Idaho Democratic Party says Balukoff will make his announcement at Hillcrest Elementary School Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., however, a press release was leaked from at least two Facebook pages that confirmed Balukoff's gubernatorial bid.
Democratic Party spokesman Dean Ferguson says he is aware of that leaked information, but says it's an internal issue he can't comment on. Ferguson says Balukoff has made no official announcement yet.
The Facebook posts have since been deleted. Here's the text of what was posted briefly on Outrage in Idaho:
Businessman and Boise School Board Chairman A.J. Balukoff announced today that he will run for Idaho Governor. Balukoff made the announcement at Hillcrest Elementary School in Boise.
“My experience in business, education and public service is what Idaho needs for effective executive level leadership,” Balukoff said. “I am independent-minded and have a track record of solving problems and building success.”
Balukoff, who has started and grown successful businesses, has also been active leading nonprofit and community organizations such as the Boise Public Library Board, the St. Luke’s Hospital Board and the Boise School District Board. AJ has often been recruited by community and non profit organizations because of his track record of financial management and helping organizations thrive. His business credentials include founding one of the largest locally-owned accounting firms in Idaho, creating a successful chain of health clubs and building and operating signature projects like Boise’s Grove Hotel, Century Link Arena and the Idaho Steelheads hockey team. He and his wife, Susie raised their 8 children in Idaho and now have grandchildren in the public school system.
Education is a driving passion for Balukoff. “My father only had an eighth grade level of education and he and my mother stressed the importance of education to me and my siblings,” he said. “That focus on education allowed me to succeed in business and I want every child in Idaho to have the same opportunities that I did.”
Balukoff decided to run after watching current Idaho politicians starve Idaho’s public education system, which has fallen to 50th in the nation in the amount we invest in our students. The results have been disastrous: Idaho students are 47th in going on to higher education and only 5 of Idaho’s 70 largest high schools have over half their graduates prepared for college. These same state politicians have also created an economic climate that now has Idaho leading the nation in the percentage of workers earning minimum wage. As a businessman and community leader, Balukoff believes that 20 years of one-party rule has created a pay-to-play culture in Idaho government and has led to poor policies that harm the state’s economy.
“Idaho’s next governor needs to have the integrity to do the right thing regardless of party and the experience to get things right,”, said Balukoff. “I have independence, the honesty, and the competence to make Idaho a better place for our children, our families and our businesses. Over the next 11 months I look forward to meeting fellow Idahoans as I make my case for being the best person to be Idaho’s next governor.”
The website AJForIdaho.com also appears to have preempted Balukoff's planned announcement.
The Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell reports Balukoff has been on Boise's school board since 1997.
"He holds an accounting degree from BYU, and has lived in Boise since 1982, where he’s operated a large CPA firm and a chain of athletic clubs, and is now part of the ownership groups of the Grove Hotel, the Idaho Steelheads hockey team, Century Link Arena, downtown office buildings and more. He and his wife Susie have eight children and 26 grandchildren." - Eye On Boise blog
Two-term Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, hasn't officially announced that he's running for a third term, although he's hired a campaign manager. The only other official candidate is Republican state Sen. Russ Fulcher.
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