Two years into her first term as mayor, Rebecca Casper has made economic security her top priority. She wants to see Eastern Idaho become a self-sustaining economic engine complete with a talent pipeline of qualified workers for the tech and science research facilities in the region. To that end, one of her goals is to establish a new community college in Idaho Falls.
Casper has many state leaders on board, but her real challenge is at the local level. “Tax” is a four-letter word in Idaho, and the city’s 60,000 residents would have to approve a special tax district for a community college to be built. “It’s hard to argue for that in a nice little sound bite or pamphlet,” says Casper.
Figuring out that answer is one of the big reasons Casper ran for elected office in the first place. Raised in Arizona, but having lived around the United States, the former political consultant and adjunct American government professor decided to run for mayor after she was approached about doing so three separate times in about as many days. She realized, she says, that “I can learn more that would be helpful to my future students than I can as a teacher just commenting on the process.”
*This item has been updated throughout.