As of now, Idaho Falls' mayor plans to run for a third term when her current one is up in 2021.
Idaho Politics Weekly published a profile of Rebecca Casper on Monday morning that said she plans to run for another term as mayor. Casper told the Post Register later Monday that, while her plans aren't set in stone, she has no intention of seeking higher office in the immediate future and as of now is happy as mayor and plans to run for a third term.
"I guess I would say that I haven't made a final decision, but the default plan is to run," she said. "If something family were to come up or something else, that would change my plan, but the plan is to run."
Casper said she thinks she is making a difference as Idaho Falls mayor right now and would want to see through some projects she is working on before leaving the job. One is the small modular reactors NuScale Power plans to build at Idaho National Laboratory's desert site, providing power to Idaho Falls and the member cities of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. INL also would use them for research and power. This project is in the federal permitting phase now.
"That one is particularly important because it has global implications," she said. "It's extremely exciting to me, and I've jumped in with both feet."
Casper said she has built relationships across the country with people in the nuclear industry, the U.S. Department of Energy and other stakeholders to further that project and wants to see it to the end.
"If it's the one we've envisioned, it's a glorious conclusion for eastern Idaho," she said.
Casper said she also wants to keep working with the U.S. Navy on its plans to open a new spent nuclear fuel handling facility at the Naval Reactors Facility. Another project she wants to see through is the city’s high-speed fiber optic pilot, which will make high-speed internet available to city residents.
“If this pilot goes well, we’re looking at a citywide expansion of fiber,” she said.
Casper said she would step aside if she felt continuing as mayor would harm some of these projects, but she thinks she can still be effective.
City elections in Idaho Falls are nonpartisan. Casper is a Republican, although some prominent members of the more right-wing faction of the Bonneville County GOP opposed her re-election in 2017.
Casper, who was an adjunct professor at Eastern Idaho Technical College and Brigham Young University-Idaho before running for office, was first elected in 2013, beating three other candidates. She won again in 2017, getting a plurality of votes in a five-way race and then beating now-state Rep. Barbara Ehardt in the ensuing runoff election.