Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, will run for re-election in California Assembly District 9’s primary election in March.
District 9, which includes Elk Grove, extends from south Sacramento to Lodi.
Also planning to run against Cooper are Democrats Tracie Stafford and Mushtaq Tahirkheil, and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Dennis Terrill.
Cooper, a resident of Elk Grove since 1988, was first elected to the Assembly in 2014, after serving on the Elk Grove City Council since the city’s incorporation in 2000. He also served three times as the city’s mayor and he was a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years.
His experience in the legislature includes serving as assistant majority leader, and the assistant majority whip under then-Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins.
Cooper told the Citizen that he remains passionate about his longtime commitment to public service.
“Public service has been my passion my entire life,” he said. “The boards, what I’ve done for my community, it’s always been about public service.”
The assembly member stressed that with his service, he has developed a “proven track record.”
“I run on a lot of issues, but I think one of the biggest things is just a proven track record, and that’s why I put my record up against anybody,” he said.
Cooper noted that he strives to improve the quality of life for people in his district in a variety of ways.
One of the quality of life issues that Cooper focuses on is the economy.
“While the unemployment rate is low, people are still struggling to get by,” he said. “Some folks are working two or three jobs and they still have a hard time paying bills and putting food on the table.”
Cooper also shared his views on the high cost of housing.
“One of the reasons we have high housing costs is because of (the California Environmental Quality Act),” he said. “You can sue to stop any project you want, so we need to do some tweaks in my opinion on that (issue).
“And the affordability, we need to build a lot more housing than we’re building each year, and that’s because it’s difficult. And we’ve got to make it easier to build more housing. But when someone can sue for any reason whatsoever to block a project, there’s a problem with that.”
Cooper praised Elk Grove’s efforts to build affordable housing.
“Elk Grove has done its share of affordable housing,” he said. “It’s time for others to step up and do their share.”
The assembly member mentioned that he has been able to approach issues that benefit Elk Grove through the state budget process.
Cooper noted that he secured $5 million for the homeless in Elk Grove in 2017, and $4 million for a new facility for the Elk Grove Food Bank last summer.
He also secured $1.7 million for a water park in Galt, $1 million for river erosion repair in Lodi, and $750,000 for after-school programs at the Samuel and Bonnie Pannell Community Center in south Sacramento.
Cooper emphasized his commitment to assisting children.
“My passion has always been for children, to make their lives better,” he said.
Cooper’s work with children includes serving as president of the Elk Grove Girls’ Softball League and a director of the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sacramento.
Additionally, Cooper annually assists various students from three selected high schools, gives away 3,000 backpacks to children in his district per year, and, for the first time this year, he presented a youth football camp with the San Francisco 49ers.
The assemblyman also commented on California Northstate University’s interest in obtaining $900 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds through the California Public Finance Authority for their proposed hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood.
“Number one, a lot of organizations like that obtain tax-free bonds,” he said. “That’s not unusual for anybody.”
Cooper, who said he is proud of his five years of service in the Assembly, stressed that his effectiveness as a leader is an essential part of why he should continue to serve as the representative of District 9.
“There are a lot of folks in politics, but you want to be an effective leader,” he said. “And I think I’ve shown that I have been effective.
“I’ve got great relationships with all my local electeds, talk to them on a regular basis about their issues. So, I feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the community and really know what the issues are.”