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Commissioners Koeper, Herbst to run for re-election

Cape Girardeau County Commissioners Paul Koeper and Charlie Herbst announced they will be running for re-election during the 2020 election, both citing the county’s ongoing projects and the com-mission’s cohesion as major reasons for running again.

“I think things are going the right direction,” Koeper said about the county’s current project. “There’s a lot of things going on and I just want to keep things moving.”

The commission is currently overseeing the construction of a new $18.4 million county courthouse in Jackson, as well as combining a 911 dispatch services with the City of Jackson. Herbst added that in the next four years, the commission will also need to look at how best to use the current Jackson courthouse.

Koeper, who represents the county’s first district, was first elected in 2008 and was re-elected in both 2012 and 2016. Herbst, who represents the county’s second district, was first elected as a commissioner in 2012 and won re-election in 2016.

Because of the collaborative nature of the commission, both Koeper and Herbst said their accomplishments during their terms should be viewed as a collective achievement with Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy and other county officials, rather than something any one commissioner did. Tracy won re-election in 2018 and his current term goes through 2022.

“We’ve been a good team,” Herbst said. “We often vote during meetings to give someone the authority to act on behalf of the commission for something – whether it’s to purchase a property or dealing with the different facets of the courthouse construction. We are lucky we have the different expertise that we all bring together.”

Before serving as commissioner, Herbst was on the Cape Girardeau City Council, was the vice president of sales at Innovative Idea Integration and was a Cape Girardeau police officer. Before Koeper took office in 2009, he worked at Penzel Construction Company for 32 years as a civil engineer.

“The good thing about this commission is that the three of us are all looking ahead at what we can do and how it is going to fit into our budget,” Koeper said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, and there will always be a lot of work to be done, but I don’t feel like I’ve finished some of the things that we’ve started.”

Koeper said some priorities he would have for an upcoming term would be to see more county roads paved, properly maintain older county buildings and upgrade radio systems for the county, sheriff’s office and rural fire departments.

Herbst added that after the new courthouse is finished, the commission will need to look at what to do with the current Jackson courthouse. “We’ve had inquiries about what the courthouse will be used for and we tell people that we don’t know,” Herbst said. “Fortunately, it’s not something we need to decide tomorrow.”

Filing for the county offices will be open from Feb. 25 to March 31, 2020, for the Aug. 4, 2020, primary election. No one has currently announced they plan on running against the two Cape Girardeau County commission incumbents.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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