JEROME — Two candidates have announced that they plan to run in the upcoming Jerome County commissioners race.
Current commissioner Cathy Roemer will seek re-election for another term, she told the Times-News. Meanwhile, local inventor and entrepreneur George Panagiotou will run for the seat occupied by Commissioner Roger Morley.
Roemer, a Jerome native, is now in her ninth year of serving as a county commissioner. Prior to her time in office, she worked as a freelance agriculture journalist and was active in the Republican party.
She named the continued economic development of Jerome County as her main priority should she be re-elected, noting her support for funding Jerome 20/20 and Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization: “two organizations that I think are vital in moving us forward economically.”
Another priority for Roemer: increasing the transparency and accessibility of county government.
“I’m a by-the-book person, which I think is a plus in county government,” Roemer said. “I believe in following protocol and procedure, and that usually translates into an open and transparent government.”
Roemer said she would like to find a way to post live video recordings of commissioner meetings on Facebook or other social media sites.
“I really think we as a county can do better to get information out to our constituents,” she said.
While Roemer cited her experience in office and as a lifelong Magic Valley resident as strengths, Panagiotou is taking a different approach.
Panagiotou, a native of Greece who has owned property in southern Idaho for nearly 20 years and lived in Jerome County for roughly three, said he believes he can “bring something new to the territory.”
“Our commissioners are from Jerome, they grew up in Jerome, they are wonderful, wonderful family people and managers,” Panagiotou said. “But they just don’t see the difference between today’s Jerome and planning to bring it to tomorrow’s Jerome.”
Panagiotou studied engineering in Greece before moving to the US, where he first lived in Boston and later California. He is the inventor of the Cool Light, a lighting system used by filmmakers, and the founder of Cool-Lux, a company that develops video lighting products. Today, Panagiotou owns Devil’s Corral, a recreational canyon area near the Snake River.
He envisions Jerome County working together with Twin Falls and surrounding counties to “elevate” the entire Magic Valley region “into a nice, beautiful, clean environment.”
“I believe with my background and my education, I can bring Jerome to Twin Falls standards and into the twenty-first century much quicker than it would take in a normal course of time,” Panagiotou said.
The filing period for candidates begins Feb. 26 and closes Mar. 9.