Cooper looks to trade borough assembly for state house

May 28, 2020

Some of the vessels surrounding the Sea Nymph from which Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper spoke during a rally for her campaign seeking House Seat 31.
Credit Kathleen Gustafson/KBBI

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper of Homer will be wrapping up her second term there this fall, and has set her sights on the Alaska State House seat currently held by first-term District 31 Representative Sarah Vance, also of Homer.
    Cooper held a rally off the Homer Spit on Tuesday evening, speaking from the stern of the vessel Sea Nymph as a camera drone shot footage for commercials.
     “I believe that we as Alaskans need to protect our renewable resources and hold non-renewable development to high standards. I believe in putting people before party. I reject partisan politics. When you refuse to listen to people who disagree with you, you miss out on so much wisdom and experience,” Cooper said to cheers. “When you were one of 40 representatives and it's your way or the highway, you're not getting very far. Sure, we won't agree on everything, but I'll always pick up the phone and I'll always tell you the truth. I believe that if you want to do what's best for Alaska, it's important to listen and really hear what issues each and every one of you are dealing with.”
    Cooper drew a flotilla of supporters in vessels of all sizes and a couple dozen supporters on shore. She emphasized her ability to work with people of all persuasions as why she wants voters to send her to Juneau.
    “I'm running because I think that we need to bring a voice to Juneau that's going to bring people together instead of making that divide wider. I think we need to get away from partisan politics,” Cooper said after the rally. “And I term-out on the assembly this year and I want to still give back to my community, and my six years on the assembly, we were able to show that we could work with everyone whether they're left, right or in the middle.”
    And it’s that message of cross-aisle cooperation that is among the reasons that supporters told KBBI they are behind Cooper.
    “Because I support a lot of things she supports and she's a good, smart, strong woman that has done good things, and a friend of mine. And you know, she's thinking about the environment and that stuff, and it's a no loser, you know,” Jeff Middleton said.
    “I've been a supporter of Kelly since before she got into politics,” said former Homer Mayor Jack Cushing. “She's a great woman, and I like what she's been doing, how she's been handling all the different opinions that are on the assembly. I think she'd just do great in the state house.”
    Cooper says that among her top priorities is the state’s dire financial situation, which she says cannot be left unaddressed any longer.
    “You know, we have a fiscal crisis. We have budget cuts, we have service, essential services being cut as well as a dwindling PFD. And we've got to come up with a fiscal plan,” Cooper said. “We can not kick this down the road another year.”
    Cooper is running as an independent, skipping the primary election.
    District 31 stretches from Homer to South Soldotna.