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Cooper promises an independent voice in Juneau


While not every race contested in the Alaska Primary Election last week has been decided, some candidates have gone ahead and started their General Election campaign. Kelly Cooper, who is the president of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly skipped the primary to run as an unaffiliated candidate against first-term incumbent Rep. Sarah Vance, a Republican, in Alaska House District 31.
    Cooper was on KBBI’s Coffee Table with Kathleen Gustafson Wed. morning, discussing her platform and taking questions from listeners. Cooper said she grew up in a large rural Wyoming family, and it’s there that she learned politics.
    “My folks had six kids in seven years. So when you have a childhood like that, with all those siblings, it gives you skills that you continue to carry through the rest of your life. Like the art of negotiation and collaboration. In a large family like ours, the notion of 'your way or the highway' was ridiculous. We learned the value of compromise. In a family that large, if you aren't willing to compromise, you don't even have a say in the matter,” Cooper said. “So District 31 deserves a representative with a cool head that won't let partisan politics interfere with our working together. I'm a problem solver and we need to get to work tackling our fiscal crisis, getting our economy moving again. And a representative that believes that we answer to the residents of our district, not orders from a political party.”
    Rep. Vance has been offered an interview on Coffee Table, but KBBI has not yet heard back from her office. Listeners were interested in if the two candidates would face off at some point.
    “Hi, Kelly. I just wondered on that note, will there be a debate with Sarah Vance?” the caller asked.
    “Thanks for your question, Donna. We are certainly encouraging that debate. The chamber of commerce reached out yesterday and they are in the process of trying to schedule one in-person where we can do it at a social distance,” Cooper said. “So we won't have multiple races, but they are working on scheduling that. And I will certainly accept the invitation. And I would expect that my opponent would as well.”
    Another caller asked Cooper what she says to undecided voters to sway them to her side.
    “I appreciate that question, Patrice. So what we're talking to people about, the undecided folks is: look at my record, look at the people that I have worked with in the past. I truly do work with both conservatives (and) liberals across the board. I work to find a compromise that we can all live with. I think my record shows that, and I continue to have a really grateful response from our community. And, I will be listening to our constituents rather than a party, and it's time for us to get to work.'”
    Campaigning will be difficult for everyone this season, given social distancing guidelines, but Cooper says she will be having Covid-responsible gatherings -- the next one on Sunday in Anchor Point.
    “So we have an open lot there for plenty of open air, and we'll be able to meet with folks in Anchor Point and be able to answer questions for them. And that's three to six, on Sunday,” Cooper said.
    Masks and hand-sanitizer will be available at the event.
    You can hear the whole discussion with Cooper here. The vote for Alaska House District 31 will be during the General Election, on November 3.


Local News House District 31Assembly President Kelly CooperHouse Rep. Sarah Vance
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