A political newcomer is challenging Mayor Rebecca Casper in the upcoming Nov. 2 election.

Ashley Romero, a mother of four, said she decided to run for mayor after some frustrations she’s had with communicating with city officials and not feeling like she was being heard.

If elected mayor, communication will be Romero’s top priority, she said.

“Communication is a big deal,” Romero said. “If the city cannot communicate effectively with its citizens, then why are they there?”

Romero said her frustrations arose from the summer, when she attempted to contact the city’s park and recreation department to repair a slide at Kate Curley Park. She said she could not get a response all summer because the phone number listed on the city’s website was wrong.

“I didn’t hear anything back from anybody all summer until I announced my candidacy to run for mayor,” Romero said.

Another important issue for Romero is the city’s budget, she said. Romero feels that the city’s departments don’t have the resources they need and the city council is prioritizing what it wants in front of what the city needs. She highlighted the need of more training for the city’s police rather than the city spending money on its want to build a new police station on the site of the former stockyard.

“Living on a budget, you learn where the priorities need to be,” Romero said. “If I had the opportunity to look at the budget and speak to the department heads at the same time, to see what they really need, then I feel it’d be a much better way of looking at the budget.”

Romero, a graduate of Skyline High School, obtained her associate degree in Music at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Shortly after, she served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Guatemala and is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Casper, first elected in 2013, is running for her third term as mayor. The reason she decided to run was to see out ongoing city projects she has helped establish during her tenure as mayor.

“One of the things that you learn once you get into a government position is how long it takes for the wheels to turn,” Casper said. “This is not a place for the impatient … it gets trained right out of you.”

One of those projects includes the city’s involvement with Utah Associated Municipal Power System’s Carbon Free Power Project, which seeks to provide safe, reliable and cost competitive clean energy to communities across the Intermountain West, according to Idaho Falls Power.

Casper said one of the accomplishments she’s most proud of was her role in transforming the then Eastern Idaho Technical College into the College of Eastern Idaho, which offers more opportunities for a variety of degrees to students.

“I feel very strongly that education changes lives and to know that we helped bolster that education (in the Idaho Falls area) is a good thing,” Casper said.

Casper said she first moved to Idaho Falls when her younger children were first starting school. She went to high school in Phoenix, Ariz., and later earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Before becoming mayor, Casper, who also has a Ph.D. in political science from University of California, Berkeley, taught courses in American government and state and local governance at BYU-Idaho.

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