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Mike Pohanka Wants to Make the World a Better Place
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Mike Pohanka, a Republican, is running for District 26, Seat A, against Rep. Ned Burns of Bellevue.
   
Monday, November 7, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

While many candidates point proudly to being a third-, fourth- or even fifth-generation Idahoan, Mike Pohanka proudly calls himself a first-generation Idahoan.

His father escaped Czechoslovakia after the Communists took over in the late 1940s.

“My father and his sister and brother-in-law grabbed their birth certificates, their degree from the University of Prague and a small amount of clothes, and they hiked out of Czechoslovakia. My father met my mom in Germany and they immigrated to the United States,” he said.

“My father said, ‘If you want things in life, you have to work for them and not expect the government to hand you everything,’ ” he added.

Pohanka grew up in Twin Falls, graduating from Twin Falls High School. He spent his formative years picking up rocks on the family farm.

“My father was a plant geneticist, who developed a couple varieties of beans, including the Blue Lake Bean. He had a small nursery at the College of Southern Idaho where he taught horticulture classes and helped design the landscape for the campus.”

Mike Pohanka worked for Idaho Power for 30 years, starting out as a meter reader before going into accounting and marketing where his clients included Rocky Mountain Hardware, Clif Bar, Glanbia Cheese, Chobani, Amalgamated Sugar and Sun Valley Company. He also served as adjunct instructor and assistant professor of economics at CSI, as a reserve deputy for the Jerome County Sheriff’s Office and as chaplain for the Idaho State Police.

As a little league coach, he focused on motivating players: “You’re better than they are,” he told his players. “The sky’s the limit.”

“It’s in my heart to give back and try to make things better around me, better than what I found it. It’s been in my heart to serve and make the world a better place,” he said.

Pohanka and Susan, his wife of 45 years, have two grown children. He decided to run for the legislature after Rep. Laurie Lickley decided to run for Michelle Stennett’s Senate seat.

One of his chief concerns is getting students caught up on their education--he says he saw firsthand how students suffered after COVID forced students online.

“My classes, which had averaged 45 to 50 students, went to 30, then 20 with Zoom. By the end of the semester, I had two or three students. I saw grades drop from As and Bs to Cs and Ds, even Fs. And I’ve been told we probably should have held back half of our sixth- and seven-graders due to reading and math deficiencies.”

Another issue of importance for Pohanka is water, which he calls “the lifeblood of southern Idaho.”

“Cloud seeding needs to continue. We need to provide funding for Anderson Ranch to raise its dam to add more cubic feet,” he said.

Pohanka supports a new bridge west of the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls to provide an alternative when there’s an accident on the Perrine Bridge. And he says the legislature needs to find funding for a four-lane thoroughfare from Timmerman Hill to Ketchum to mitigate traffic jams in the Wood River Valley.

He wants to provide more funding for law enforcement so it can crack down on human trafficking and fentanyl smuggling and so that the Idaho State Police can hold training academies on schedule, rather than cancel some as the department recently did.

An avid hunter, fisher and hiker, he believes the state should not try to take federal lands, and he believes public access is important.

“And I’m pro-life with the exception of instances where rape, incest and the health of the mother are involved,” he added.

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