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Eye On Boise

Balukoff concedes to Otter in gov’s race

A.J. Balukoff, running for Idaho governor, laughs with attendees of a Democratic election night party at The Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014. (AP/Idaho Statesman)
A.J. Balukoff, running for Idaho governor, laughs with attendees of a Democratic election night party at The Grove Hotel in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2014. (AP/Idaho Statesman)

A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic candidate for governor, has conceded the election to GOP Gov. Butch Otter; Balukoff said he offered Otter his congratulations in a late-night phone call. "Being governor is often a thankless job, and I commend Gov. Otter for his public service," Balukoff said in a statement.

"I urge the members of my party and all Idahoans to come together, through our common values, to pursue our shared goals, so that we may rise to the challenges before us," he said. "We ran a good race and we brought attention to some very important issues. And in the end, as a nation of free elections, we accept the decision of voters."

Balukoff said over the past year, he's worked successfully to change "the tone of the conversation about education in Idaho. That's a victory--and it's a victory most of all for Idaho's children. But we have more work to do to make the people we elect to the Statehouse accountable to delivering on their promises and their obligation to put our schools and our kids first." Click below for his full statement.

Thank You, Idaho, For This Great Run

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

By A.J. Balukoff

Late last night, I called Gov. Otter and congratulated him for his victory on Election Day, and I wished him all the best in his next term.

I told the governor I would be honored to help in any way possible to make our state better, especially our education system. I urge the members of my party and all Idahoans to come together, through our common values, to pursue our shared goals, so that we may rise to the challenges before us.

We ran a good race and we brought attention to some very important issues. And in the end, as a nation of free elections, we accept the decision of voters.

Running for governor has taught me many lessons, not least that it's an awful lot of hard work to run for state office. Anyone willing to do that deserves our respect, in victory or in defeat. Anyone willing to devote years to public service, through the inevitable criticisms, deserves our gratitude. 

Being governor is often a thankless job, and I commend Gov. Otter for his public service.

I have more people to thank than I can list here, but I want to say that I would not have had this much success without a great, hardworking campaign team led my my manager, Marie Hattaway, and the tireless help of many dedicated volunteers. They are the lifeblood of a campaign and I am forever indebted to them.

Most of all, I owe so much to my wife, Susie, and my family. I could not have done this without their support and sacrifice.

My father had an eighth-grade education. He worked hard to support his family. 

But he spent his entire life staring up at the wall that stands between people with limited education and opportunity, knowing he would never see the other side of that wall.

His life experience convinced him that his children had to go to college. Because he aspired for his children to have better lives, I have enjoyed a degree of success that my father could never have dreamed of. 

I have spent 17 years as a school board trustee. I've seen first-hand how someone's education sets the course of his or her life, whether it's a high-school valedictorian heading off to one of America's elite universities, or the pride in the face of a young person graduating from our alternative high school, Frank Church High, after failing in every school he or she had ever attended.

From the day I announced my candidacy at Hillcrest Elementary last Dec. 3, this campaign has been about our state neglecting its constitutional mandate--its moral responsibility--to provide equal educational opportunity to every single child in Idaho.

We have not been doing right by our kids and our schools. We have not treated our educators as professionals. 

But over the past year, we... all of us working together... have changed the tone of the conversation about education in Idaho. 

That's a victory--and it's a victory most of all for Idaho's children.

But we have more work to do to make the people we elect to the Statehouse accountable to delivering on their promises and their obligation to put our schools and our kids first.

I believe deeply in public service. To anyone who says our state needs better leadership, I say, run for public office. Work or volunteer for a candidate. Inform yourself about the issues and urge everyone you know to vote.

If we want to make our little corner of the world better, we must do more than just criticize from the opposite corner.

I'm proud of the campaign I ran, and of all the workers and volunteers who helped us get here. We worked hard and told the truth, and whatever I do next, I promise you it will always be about putting people first.

The best part of this experience has been meeting people from all over Idaho, hearing what's important to them, and discovering that there is much more that unites us than divides us.

We have a lot of good people in our state. We may disagree on some issues, but here's what we all share in common: We choose to live in Idaho. 

We live here, even though it can be challenging, because it's a beautiful state and offers so much that most of the country doesn't have.

If there's one thing that Idahoans know, it's that there's no free lunch. 

Idahoans are willing to work hard. We all want better lives for our children. We are fully capable of doing what's necessary to make our state not just a great place to live, but also a place where anyone willing to work hard can make a living. 

Where we can raise our children knowing they will have the same educational and job opportunities as kids in the wealthiest communities in America.

In traveling all over Idaho over the past 11 months, I have visited with seniors in government classes in many high schools. They would ask me what it's like to run for governor, and I would always ask them the same question:

How many of you plan to go to college next year? 

I have to tell you the truth: There were too many classrooms where only a few hands went up.

But a couple of months ago, at Madison High School in Rexburg, I asked that question to seniors from three American government classes assembled in the auditorium. 

Every hand in the room went up in the air. Every one of those seniors was going to college.

That community has taught their children the most important lesson: to aspire to greatness. And they have supported their kids and given them what they need to succeed. 

That is what we must do for all of Idaho.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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