The race for governor of Idaho is full of promise for a new perspective. As governor Butch Otter makes his leave after three terms, some candidates are stepping forward, including one Tommy Ahlquist from the Treasue Valley. Ahlquist, however, is confident that the differences in his professional background will distinguish him from his opponents in the upcoming election and offer a new perspective on Idahoan topics.
"I am not a politician." Claims Ahlquist on his campaign website. Despite this sentiment, Ahlquist has served as a community leader on the Boise Chamber Board of Directors, the President's Board of Directors for Boise State University, the United Way Treasure Valley Board, The American Heart Association Board, Together Treasure Valley, President of FACES Foundation of Idaho, and more. He is also a commerical property builder, former ER doctor, and owner of several small businesses.
"I believe firmly that real world experience and records count for a lot," Ahlquist said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio. "I've got a deep record in health care and leading. In education and the business world, it's nice to have someone that's actually signed the front of thousands of paychecks and put their treasure and time at risk to start small businesses and undstands how an economy works. I understand economic development not because I've read about it or talked about it but because I've done it."
In the interview, Ahlquist shared his view on the issue of health care in Idaho, and briefly mentioned his solution. "There are some solutions that will change cost structures which will allow premiums to come down," Ahlquist said. "First we need to reform Medicaid. Second, we have something called a high risk pool in Idaho - let's help them and make sure they have a medical home and the medications they need to stay healthy rather than just pay for them when they get so sick that they're in an ICU."
When it comes to education reform, Ahlquist emphasized that change in the infrastructure, simplification of government policy, and clarity of reform goals are a priority before considering more funding. "We do underpay our teachers, but 63 percent of every tax dollar goes to education," Ahlquist said. "We need to do more leadership and changing the environment and paradigm of how we're doing K-12 and look at funding. I hate that every time we give more money to teachers we add another layer of buraeucracy and reporting. We've gotten in the way of teaching our kids. I think we absolutely need to create those goals with clarity and then loosen up and let the local school district teach our kids."
BYU-Idaho Radio is working to interview all the major gubernatorial candidates. You can listen to our interview with democrat A.J. Balukoff here:
You can listen to the full interview with Ahlquist below.