Meet AJ Balukoff
A.J. Balukoff comes from middle-class roots. His father, a World War II veteran, worked in the mines, timber industry and on a farm when A.J. was young. His mother ran the household which included A.J.’s brother and sister. He learned to work hard and save at an early age. As a boy, he would collect pop bottles around his community and turn them in for change. He got his first job stacking boxes in a grocery store while in high school. A.J.’s family was never wealthy, but he says he never felt wanting for anything, “I grew up in a community where everyone was kind of in the same boat. They worked hard, saved their money and looked out for one another. It was a great upbringing.”
A.J. developed a love of the outdoors at an early age that endures to this day. When he was 16, he spent five days hiking the High Sierra’s in a back-pack he made, camping and fishing for trout along the way. Throughout his later years, A.J. has summitted Idaho’s Mount Borah more than a half-dozen times. He continues to hunt and fish with his kids and grandkids year-round.
Upon graduating high school, A.J. earned a scholarship to Brigham Young University where he worked his way through school. He was the first in his family to attend college which he graduated in just three years. After earning his degree, he worked for several accounting firms before starting his own in Boise. He grew the business into the largest locally-owned firm in town. Since then, A.J. has created and managed multiple businesses including a string of athletic clubs and the Idaho Steelheads hockey team. He also helped build the Grove Hotel and CenturyLink Arena. He has created hundreds of jobs in Idaho along the way.
A.J.’s own life experiences have shown him how the combination of hard work and education can lead to prosperity. He has been a Boise School District Trustee since 1997 and an unrelenting advocate for developing quality public schools, community colleges, apprenticeship programs and four-year universities. A.J. and Susan, his wife of 37 years, are as concerned as countless Idaho parents about the dire state of our educated work force and the hurdles hard-working Idahoans face in securing the skills needed to get a job that will support a family. As a father and grandfather, he also pledges to fight for the thousands of working Idahoans who lack access to basic health care. A.J. knows that healthy, skilled families are necessary to grow Idaho’s economy, keep our children from leaving the state for better opportunities, and preserving a quality of life that is unlike any other in America.