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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff72a50000The 2014 midterm election is a big year in Idaho.Each of the state's top offices are on the ballot; governor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, and treasurer. Plus, all 105 legislative seats are up for grabs (although, not all of those seats are contested).One of Idaho's U.S. Senate seats is on the ballot, plus both House of Representatives seats.Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, is running for a rare third term. The last Idaho governor to get a third term was Democrat Cecil Andrus, who held the office for 14 years.Polls are open Nov. 4, 2014 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Click here to find your polling place, and learn more about what you need to bring to the polls.Plus, find NPR's election-night live-blog, here.

GOP Schools Chief Candidate Randy Jensen Will Bring Small-Town Approach To State Agency

Randy Jensen
Idaho Ed News

In this town of less than 4,500 people, Randy Jensen has taken 3,000 students to lunch.

Anyone who has played Little League baseball in the past 25 years has shared the field with Coach Jensen.

One of four Republicans vying for state superintendent of public instruction, Jensen hopes to bring the same small-town approach to statewide office.

“I’m really big on relationships – in small towns you’re able to build a lot of relationships with a lot of people,” he said. “In a small town, you can make a big difference.”

Jensen grew up just 30 miles from where he has spent a 29-year career in education at American Falls’ William Thomas Middle School. He taught and coached before becoming principal at age 27, a post he has held for 25 years.

The small-school environment suits Jensen. He picks four students a week — every week for 750 weeks — and takes them to lunch at Pizza Hut.

That’s 3,000 pizzas over in his career.

“I love watching them blossom from sixth to eighth grade,” Jensen said. “In sixth grade, they come in as rosebuds. In seventh grade, they can be a little thorny. By eighth grade, they’ve blossomed into such great kids.”

Jensen ran the town’s Little League program for a decade.

He still pitches batting practice or hits fly balls to high school baseball teams.

One of Jensen’s original students, Amy Manning, loved him so much that she drove her own children 60 miles so they could have him too.

“He’s always so energetic, he’s helpful and he’s excited to be at work every day,” she said.

Jensen has lots of families like the Mannings in his life; many of his students are second-generation kids. Those relationships are so important to him that he won’t feel like a loser if he loses this election.

“Sometimes I’ve thought the best thing for me is to lose this election,” Jensen said. “I’ve got a great life in a great town.”

Click here to continue reading this feature from Idaho Ed News.

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