It was 4:30 p.m. in St. Anthony, Idaho, and Luke Evans had only five more deliveries to go. He sat in his delivery truck, about to turn onto U.S. Highway 20 toward Rexburg.
While at the stop sign before the intersection, a Ford F-550 slammed into him from behind. The collision crushed his delivery car, pinning his leg and damaging his back. In one instant, Evans’ life changed.
From the rubble of the crash, a candidate for mayor was born.
Finding a way
Evans grew up in a large family in Rigby, where hand-me-downs and family chores were the norm.
“I saw the struggle of my parents — (I had) a highly educated father, my mother had the equivalent of an associate degree — and I just said it’s not so much about the degree as it is about educating people,” Evans said.
He attended school in Rexburg briefly around 2002, then left for Mexico to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When he returned he started work, traveling all over Southeastern Idaho to learn wherever he could.
“Rexburg, Rigby, Sugar City, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Pocatello — you name it,” Evans said. “But I’ve been in Rexburg around seven to eight years.”
Evans found a passion flipping houses and working in real estate. He worked for a long time with Silver Creek Realty Group.
During his last job as a courier for the United Postal Service tragedy struck on Sept. 15, 2022.
The collision left two massive tears in his left leg and more injuries across his hands, head and lower back. Recovery left him fairly mobile but with nerve damage in his foot and screws in his back.
“It led (me) to re-evaluate my life: What I want to do and my priorities,” Evans said. “This might be a chance to do something new.”
He started Taxi2Go, a small taxi business that found a niche driving people to and from the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.
“I met all kinds of people, Jamaica, India, Korea, China and of course local people … It’s just neat to hear their stories,” Evans said.
As he spent more time driving Rexburg residents around, he found that many were barely making ends meet.
“One lady’s working 40 hours a week for a law firm,” Evans said. “Her bosses were attorneys, (but) she didn’t have any food. I’d take her once or twice a week (to the food bank) to get a box of food. This wasn’t somebody who’s trying to live off the government, staying home doing nothing.”
His campaign revolves around trying to help hard-working, honest people.
“There’s 5,000 families that don’t have food,” Evans said. “There’s hundreds of families that don’t have clothing. I just couldn’t believe it. I was dumbfounded.”
During Scroll’s interview, Evans repeatedly mentioned that Rexburg has the highest poverty rate in the state of Idaho. According to a poverty breakdown by Stacker, Rexburg has a 39.3% poverty rate, the highest in the state.
“People think it’s always the college kids that ruin our numbers,” Evans said. “But no, heck, most of them aren’t even accounted for.”
Evans sees food insecurity and job challenges as the highest priority for the mayor. After that?
“Potholes,” Evans chuckled.
“Let US Make Rexburg Great”
For Evans, this election is about bringing the community together. His campaign slogan is “Let US Make Rexburg Great.”
“The ‘US’ is both for ‘United States’ and it’s us,” Evans said. “It’s not ‘Let Luke Make Rexburg Great.’ … How can we collectively work together, to impact, in a positive way, our community? That’s through service; that’s through an approach of non-judgment, through an approach of love.”
Evans worked for several months as a success coach, trying to help people who struggle with finances find success. You can find excerpts from his speeches on his YouTube channel.
“I try to do what I can, but I’m only one person,” Evans said. “I’ve just been thinking that if we came together, then man, there’s no stopping us.”
While driving taxis, he’d often ask residents what they thought needed to happen. He built his platform from many of those ideas. He took out an ad in the Standard Journal and organized a website.
In a YouTube video from Sept. 6, Evans urged people to give feedback and share how they think Rexburg can improve.
“What I would like to hear are some ways — maybe two or three possible ways — that we can help improve our city, and certain ways that you are willing to contribute,” Evans said.
The comment section on the video is closed, but Evans hopes the campaign will be a uniting force for the city.
“Deep down, we all have the same goals: We want what’s best for each other, what’s best for our kids,” Evans said.
As Evans looks to the future, he wants the town to live up to the way visitors see the city when they visit.
“If I didn’t think there were issues, I wouldn’t even consider running,” Evans said. “I have no desire to be a politician, I just want to be a good citizen. I think it’s my civic duty to stand up for what I believe in and contribute, and most of us need to do that.”